Independent UK merchants on tour in Australia.

Ten leading wine professionals from the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland have been won over by Australian wine after an immersive ten-day trip hosted by Wine Australia.

From 2 to 11 October, a group of nine buyers from UK and Ireland independent wine merchants, plus Drinks Retailing News’ Editor Martin Green, explored the diversity and innovation of Australian wine through a series of personalised tours, tastings, master classes and winemaker dinners.

“It was great to experience the diversity of Australia’s distinct regions and taste some really high-quality wines. We import directly from Australia and I’ve now got a few new things I want to bring in,” said Colin Thorne, Buyer at Vagabond Wine.

“It was great to experience the diversity of Australia’s distinct regions and taste some really high-quality wines.


The tour was hosted by Wine Australia’s Emma Symington MW, who took guests to tastings in the Hunter Valley and Orange, tastings in Sydney, a Barossa and Clare Valley tasting at Yalumba, and visits to Canberra, Yarra Valley, King Valley, Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale.

“The King Valley for me was the most surprising as I had very limited knowledge of the area, and upon leaving was really enthused by the genuine potential of the area for unique and premium wines,” said Phil Innes, Managing Director at Loki Wine.

Guests discovered Mediterranean and alternative grape varieties, learnt more about the influence of cool climates, explored sub-regionality of Barossa, and met artisan and pioneering young guns like Mac Forbes and Lark Hill’s Chris Carpenter.

The group was also taken on a guided tour of The Australian Wine Research Institute where they saw how research and development supports innovation in Australian wine and took part in a faults master class.

The list of guests were:

Phil Innes – Managing Director, Loki Wine
Colin Thorne – Buyer, Vagabond Wines
Stewart Travers – Senior Buyer, Cambridge Wine Merchants
Ruth Yates – Managing Director and Buyer, Corks Out
Matthew Hennings – Managing Director, Hennings Wine Merchants
John Chapman – Operations Director, Oxford Wine Company
Simon Taylor – Managing Director and Buyer, Stone Vine & Sun
Gary O’Donovan – Managing Director, O’Donovan’s
Freddy Bulmer – Buyer, The Wine Society
Martin Green – Editor, Drinks Retailing News

Over the past few years, the independent wine sector has been flourishing in the UK. The number of stores is up, with 766 independent merchants in 2015 and 816 in 2016, further growth is expected in 2017.

Having explored a broad range of regions and tasted more than 400 wines during the trip, Wine Australia stated that “feedback was extremely positive from guests who were impressed with the quality and diversity of wines.

“The group also valued the commercial opportunities that the trip presented, with many talking about new listings as a result of their visit.”