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Production potential: Winemaking Tasmania has grown its business to a record production of more than 1500 tonnes in the past 12 months.

WHEN it comes to contract winemaking in Tasmania, Winemaking Tasmania is the go-to business and it has defied the national trend by being profitable from day one and it just keeps getting bigger.

In the Australian wine industry Winemaking Tasmania is a standout performer.

It opened in 2002 as a Hobart-based contract winemaker, went straight into profit and has kept right on making money.

Managing director Julian Alcorso says the business plan called for a target of 200 tonnes by Year Five but they had passed that mark by the end of their second year.

Catering for up to 50 wineries depending on season and demand production in the business has now reached 1500 tonnes.

Alcorso describes the company as the most technologically advanced in Australia and he says clients know all that equipment and effort is for them.

“We don’t make any wine ourselves, so if people see new barrels coming in, or any new equipment, they know it is for their wine and with our four winemakers working closely with them they know they will get the product they want,” he says.

After 12 years at the helm Alcorso – who built up Tamar Ridge for Josef Chromy before getting into Winemaking Tasmania – has decided he is getting just a little old for the next stage of the enterprise.

“This is a strong business, it is not so much looking for someone to come in and change things, we just want a younger, fresher vision to come in and add to what we are doing,” he says.

“This is a profitable model which has been well managed from the first day and even though it has paid good dividends we have also reinvested 50 per cent of profit back into the business every year.”

Winemaking Tasmania has an impressive list of services, which Alcorso says are not charged as extras but are included in the price, such as:

  • Micro lots.
  • Three crossflow filtration systems.
  • Reverse osmosis to concentrate wine and juice, remove taint and volatile acidity reduction and manage stuck ferments.
  • Alcohol adjustment.
  • Sparkling wines.
  • Bottling with three closures – screwcap, cork and crown.
  • Labelling and packing.

Alcorso also points to the company’s growing success in premium-cider production as another opportunity for significant expansion.

He says the burgeoning cider market in Australia is expanding at more than 20 per cent a year.

“As it becomes more sophisticated demand is growing for premium Tasmanian ciders made from locally-grown apples, pears and cherries,” he says.

“Unlike competitive ciders, they do not contain artificial ingredients or juice concentrates.

“Winemaking Tasmania is working with its clients on market development programs that have the potential to support a substantial increase in production.

“These include trial export shipments to the US, China and Japan as well as negotiations with a national retailer to stock Tasmanian cider in supermarkets across Australia.”

Alcorso, a high-profile figure in the Australian as well as Tasmanian wine industry, says he is willing to remain working in the business to ensure its continued success under new owners.

He says he is under contract to the current company for two more years.

Full story in the May 2014 issue of Grapegrower  & Winemaker magazine.