Export grants help South Australian wines go global

Wine companies have taken advantage of the latest round of South Australian export grants to solidify their sales across the globe.

More than a dozen South Australian wine companies were among the businesses to use the South Australian Export Accelerator (SAEA) program to help them market and sell their products overseas.

Through the program, businesses shared in more than $544,000, which allowed recipients to participate in international trade shows and business missions, produce marketing collateral, conduct market research, ecommerce development and undertake export training and consultation.

The 27 recipients covered a broad range of industries, including manufacturing, IT and life sciences, but it was South Australia’s wine industry that won the majority of funding.

Among the wine companies to receive a grant were Bull and Bull, Alliance Wine Australia, Elderton Wines, Penley Estate, Massena and Portia Valley Wines.

Bull and Bull owner Rob Turnbull said the funding allowed the company to cement their relationship with partners in China.

“Australia is our largest total sales market but certainly China as an export market is our number one for value and volume,” he said.

“The Chinese market is so mature now. It used to be that you find a distributor and they buy truckloads of your stuff and you’re happy. Now you really have to be very clever in which segments you pick and how you go to market with those segments.”

Turnbull founded Bull and Bull almost three years ago with a mind to exporting wines from regions such as the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, and Coonawarra.

He said differentiating Bull and Bull as a legitimate player in the Chinese market had been his greatest hurdle.

But Turnbull was tackling this challenge by trying to develop a long-term customer base in China through meetings and clever marketing.

“We’re not looking at high volume, we’re looking at high value across China. We’re not looking for one distributor. It really is a mishmash of different customers and different channels.”

While Bull and Bull were looking to further establish themselves in Asia, Penley Estate finance and distribution manager Kathryn Shaw said the McLaren Vale-based business had used the opportunity to continue expanding their overseas distribution.

Penley Estate exports wines to 17 countries and would like to add Japan and India to the list.

“We’re strategically trying to shift our strategy from 60 per cent domestic and 40% export to 60 export and 40% domestic,” Shaw said.

In a bid to increase overseas sales, in 2016 Penley Estate appointed new winemaker Kate Goodman. The business also rebranded.

Subsequently, Goodman was named Winemaker of the Year at the Australian Women in Wine Awards and Penley Estate doubled its wine sales.

Applications for the next round of SAEA open on July 1.

Picture courtesy of Barossa Grape & Wine Association