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THIS month Grapegrower & Winemaker asked four winemakers to share their thoughts on the wine show system: Tom Carson from Yabby Lake/Heathcote Estate in Victoria; John Griffiths from the Faber Vineyard in Western Australia’s Swan Valley; Drew Tuckwell from Printhie in Orange, New South Wales; and Sarah Crowe from Victoria’s Yarra Yering.

Tom Carson

Tom Carson

Which wine shows are most important to your wine brand?

Tom Carson (TC): In Australia, Melbourne and the National are the two top shows for us, followed by the Chardonnay Challenge, Brisbane and Sydney and occasionally Adelaide. Internationally we have entered over the years, but this year we only entered the International Wine & Spirit Competition.

John Griffiths (JG): We enter the Western Australian wine shows – Swan Valley, WA Boutique, Qantas Wine Show of WA and Perth Royal.

Drew Tuckwell (DT): The Orange Regional Show, mainly because it only takes in the local wines, and the NSW Wine Awards because there’s a provincial focus and probably more than any other show, if you do well, you do get acknowledged and it offers a marketing extension.

Sarah Crowe (SC): We have two brands, Yarra Yering and Warramate, and the importance of wine shows is vastly different for each. Warramate retails for $25-$30 and competes with many brands for shelf space, positive wine show results are seen to assist sales at that price point. Regional shows and capital city shows, as well as any with a ‘cool climate’ angle are considered. Yarra Yering has a strong reputation and, traditionally, wine shows haven’t been used to help promote the brand. Having said that, we recently entered the 2012 Dry Red No1 and 2012 Dry Red No2 into the new VIC100 Wine Awards and were very pleased both were successful. This type of regional show is what’s most important for Yarra Yering.

Sarah Crowe

Sarah Crowe

Do you budget for wine show entry fees each year?

TC: We only enter a few shows per year and for me it depends on who is on the judging panel as to whether we enter or not. So it changes year-to-year, but normally about three-to-five shows per year. We don’t budget specifically, but take the money from our marketing funds.

JG: It costs us more than $2000 each year to enter the WA shows, including the wine we send.

DT: We are strategic about it because it is a part of our marketing spend. We don’t see value in sending off a whole bunch of wines in hope we ‘jag’ a medal, that’s not a sustainable or valuable use of our money. If one of our wines does well in the Orange show and the NSW Wine Awards we might punt it into a couple of other shows and I think that helps back up the work of the local show.

SC: We don’t have a budget specific to wine show entries, it comes under promotional activity. It is a fairly minimal annual spend.

Drew Tuckwell

Drew Tuckwell

Has the number of wine shows you enter changed across the past five years?

TC: Yes, we are more selective about which shows we enter.

JG: The number is getting smaller because it has become too expensive and some shows are not significant.

DT: It has evolved since I started at Printhie seven years ago. We were operating on the system of hoping for a medal, but we have changed to target which wines are sent to which shows.

SC: Yes, we’re entering more, because the previous winemaker was not fond of them.

Do you enter international competitions? Why/why not?

John Griffiths

John Griffiths

TC: Yes, for the UK market.

JG: No. We don’t export much, and international shows are too expensive and complicated to devote our resources to.

DT: We have done in the past, but we are not huge exporters and our biggest market at the moment is China. It can be horribly expensive to enter shows in Europe, but you do get good value if your wine does well.

SC: Not recently. But we have a strong export push, so perhaps we should.

To read the full Q&A, grab a copy of Grapegrower & Winemaker’s October 2014 issue or to subscribe, visit www.wienbiz.com.au/gwm/subscribe/.