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Travel scheme to rekindle UK love affair with Australia

A new travel firm has been set up with the aim of inspiring the young generation of the UK wine trade to develop a fresh relationship with Australian wine.

James Busby Travel was established by Tim Wildman MW to provide a solution to what he calls "the success shadow of commodity brands".

Having used his MW dissertation to explore the problems currently facing Australia in the UK market, Wildman came to the conclusion that getting the next generation of the UK wine trade out to Australia offered the best way to reinvigorate relationships with the country’s top producers.

The scheme sees 30 high end Australian wine producers contributing funds to subsidise travel for young representatives from the UK, primarily from the on-trade, wholesale and retail sectors.

This enables individuals to spend two weeks in Australia for £1,500 of their own money, with the hope that some of this will be provided by their employer.

Wildman highlighted three core aims behind the venture: "We wanted the bring the sizzle back into the category by telling the terroir story; we wanted a very strong educational rather than just commercial emphasis because we’re looking for longterm attitudinal change here; and we’re very strongly focused on creating a network after the trip between visitors and producers, as well as between the visitors themselves, through social media, monthly newsletters and get togethers in London."

The structure of these visits has been carefully tailored to reflect Wildman’s aims. "We tried to learn from the mistakes of the past", he explained, "People on trips to Australia either tend to get taken on punishing itineraries of six wineries a day, or they’re subjected to big room tastings of 300 wines, which gives no opportunity to tell the terroir story."

By contrast, Wildman aims to expose his groups of 15 trade representatives to just two wineries each day, allowing them to spend around three hours getting to know each producer, explore their vineyards and taste no more than 12 wines at a time.

The  trips will also include time for cultural and gastronomic tours in the areas around the wine regions.

The first trip runs from 15-31 October 2010 and will focus on Victoria and South Australia. The provisional itinerary includes producers such as De Bortoli in Yarra Valley, D’Arenberg in McLaren Vale and Henschke in Eden Valley.

Three further trips are in the pipeline for 2011, when the itinerary will expand to take in New South Wales and Western Australia. wildman also plans to extend his focus next year by opening these trips to young representatives from some of Australia’s other key European markets.

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Gabriel Savage, 19.05.2010

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