Tasmania boosts Aussie wine revival

9th April, 2014 by Gabriel Stone

Excitement about Tasmania is playing an important role in reinvigorating interest in the Australian wine industry as a whole, according to one producer.

Tasmania“There’s something about Tasmania that people have a real affinity with,” remarked Andrew Harris, wine ambassador for Brown Brothers, which bought its own vineyards here in 2010. “It has great food, it’s green, there’s lots of wildlife – there’s a great connection there.”

Although the state currently contains just 1,600 hectares of vineyard, divided among around 160 licensed producers, average prices are more than double that for Australian wine as a whole and the Tasmanian local government is keen to attract further investment in the region. Meanwhile, recent years have seen Australia’s total wine exports falter, with the country experiencing a 6% volume export decline in 2013.

Earlier this spring, Brown Brothers launched its “18 Eighty Nine” Sauvignon Blanc into the UK market for the first time, having switched to using Tasmanian fruit for this line from the 2012 vintage onwards.

Highlighting the positive reaction to this shift from the domestic market, where the brand is already well established, Harris reported: “It’s sold twice as fast as when we made it in Whitlands,” an area of the King Valley in Brown Brothers’ Victoria heartland.

Indeed, looking more generally at the company’s recent sales performance, Harris remarked: “Our domestic market is really picking up,” a shift he attributed not only to changes in the 18 Eighty Nine range, but also Brown Brothers’ Tasmanian label Devil’s Corner, which he reported “has been growing at an enormous rate in Australia.”

In the UK, this summer will see Tesco introduce an exclusive label Tasmanian Pinot Noir from Brown Brothers, which is due to retail for around £12.99.

“We want to keep it as fresh and vibrant as we can,” said Harris of the stylistic approach taken with this particular offering. “We look to Freycinet Peninsular with its warmer site for berry fruit and a warmer flavour, then complement that with the freshness of Tamar Valley.”

Describing the new listing as “exciting”, Emma Clark, brand manager for Brown Brothers’ UK agent PLB described it as “a response to demand from the public for cooler climate wines and Pinot Noir.”

Despite the exciting results from Tasmania, which have seen a number of high profile producers buy vineyards on the island in recent years, Harris acknowledged the challenge presented by its “fickle” climate, noting: “in some years it’s cooler than Champagne.”

“In 2011 we dropped over half our Pinot Noir from the biggest vineyard which was a bit of an eye opener,” he recalled. “Then 2012 was amazing quality but there wasn’t a lot of quantity to show the market. 2013 was perfect.”

Cool conditions during the latest growing season have led to a late harvest and “a little bit of poor fruit set”, leading Harris to offer the mid-harvest prediction that “there’s probably going to be a lower quantity, but usually that pans out into better quality.”

Despite the challenges presented by such a marginal grape growing climate, Harris highlighted this as a source of appeal for many Australian producers. “With the drought risk we’ve had, that move to cooler climate viticulture is important,” he remarked.

Although Brown Brothers was already located in the relatively cool area of Victoria, he pointed to the recurring problems caused by forest fires in this region during recent years “so we decided to diversify.”

Brown Brothers’ current vineyard holdings in Tasmania include 180 hectares in the Freycinet Peninsular on the east coast of the island, with a further 130ha in Tamar Valley and an “even smaller” site in nearby White Hills that was left over after the company sold its vineyards here to Treasury Wine Estates last year.

A more detailed look at the performance of Australian wine exports will appear in May’s issue of the drinks business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Sales Account Manager

Jascots Wine Merchants
London, UK

Marylebone Sales Manager

Philglas & Swiggot
Marylebone, London, UK

Area Sales Manager

Bon Coeur Fine Wines
North England, UK

Procurement Assistant – Wine

Adnams PLC
Southwold, UK

Account Manager Central London

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

Brand Ambassador

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

National Business Development Manager

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

Marketing Assistant

Hatch Mansfield
Ascot, Berkshire, UK

Marketing Manager

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Regional Sales Manager – Scotland

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Sales Manager – London On-Trade

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Customer Service & Sales Support Executive

Jascots Wine Merchants
London, UK

Market Insight Analyst

Conviviality PLC
London, UK

Technical Manager

Enotria&Coe
Park Royal, London, GB

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

Deadline : 25th August 2017

The Global Malbec Masters 2017

Deadline : 25th August 2017

Global Chardonnay Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st September 2017

The Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st September 2017

Click to view more

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

The Global Organic Masters 2017

The drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Organic Masters

The Drinks Business Awards 2017

Now in its 15th year, the db awards have become the most authoritative, internationally respected badge of achievement in the alcoholic drinks industry.

The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters 2017

the drinks business Hong Kong announces its first year of The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters.

Click to view more