Wolf Blass blasts small Aussie producers as ‘parasites’20th August, 2013 by Lucy Shaw
Veteran winemaker Wolf Blass has slammed small Australian producers as “parasites” that do little to collectively promote Brand Australia abroad.
According to The Australian, Blass has called for Australia’s 2,500 winemakers to contribute to an international marketing fund in order to boost exports.
“To succeed in business we need promotion and something terrible will happen if we don’t – nothing,” Blass told an American Chamber of Commerce forum last week.
“We’ve got no funding to promote the industry. We should have a levy on most winemakers. There are a lot of parasites in this country who don’t contribute to the marketing of their product,” he added.
Blass went on to claim that 70% of Australian winemakers are failing to make a profit in the domestic market.
During the forum, Blass also blasted New Zealand producers as “black sheep” who have been allowed to flood the Australian market with Sauvignon Blanc.
As reported in The Australian, Blass called on the federal government to cut its “wet tax”, which allows New Zealand producers claim a rebate for wine shipped to Australia.
“The tax is hurting us: we need the AU$30m to promote our own product overseas,” he said.
Blass believes Australian wines are struggling in key export markets such as the UK and the US as they have “lost their reputation for quality” due to discounting.
As we reported earlier this month, the recent weakening of the Australian dollar against the American dollar is leading to a drop in retail prices for Australian wine in the US.
In July, Wolf Blass’ owner, Treasury Wine Estates, destroyed AU$35m (£21.4m) of old and aged commercial stock in the US due to declining sales in the American market.
In addition, Treasury has earmarked a further AU$40m for discounts, designed to speed up the sale of its surplus vintage wines currently floating around the US.
Blass, 79, came to Australia in 1961 to work for Kaiser Stuhl in the Barossa Valley and launched his eponymous label in 1973.
Some 60 million bottles of Wolf Blass are shipped to 50 countries each year.
Known for his signature bow ties, Blass remains involved in the company he founded 40 years ago as a global ambassador for the Wolf Blass brand.