Sydney cellar door pays for itself through billionaire wine customers
The red tape Château Tanunda waded through to open its cellar door in a historic part of Sydney has proven to be well worth it for the high net worth individuals the store attracts, its owner tells db.
In an exclusive interview with the drinks business, Château Tanunda owner John Geber revealed it took four years to get its Sydney cellar door under license due to its location in the most historic part of the Australian city.
With the Barossa Valley more than 1,300km away from Australia’s busiest city, Geber felt it would be prudent to have a presence in Sydney for those visitors who would not have time to make it out west to visit the Château in person.
Calling it The Rocks, Tanunda’s cellar door opened in Sydney in October 2021 offering tastings of Old Vine Expressions from AU$70 per person, allowing guests to sample wines made from 50, 100 and 150-year-old vines.
Geber told db that the upmarket store tends to attract high net worth individuals who are looking to stock their personal wine cellars with “something no one else has”.
He recounted how the combined wealth of three Singaporeans who recently stopped in at the store was AU$9.8 billion.
“One of them bought wine worth AU$100,000,” said Geber. “I would never, ever have met these guys if they hadn’t walked through the cellar door.”
The new Hong Kong
According to Geber, many of the customers who arrive at The Rocks are from Southeast Asian countries.
“Singapore is the new Hong Kong of the world,” Geber claimed. “It’s all about financial mobility there. Capital flight is on!”
Calling Singapore “the shock absorber” of Asia, he elaborated that he believes the country “is going to become an incredibly important place.”
“Asia overall is up-and-coming with Asian markets in double digit growth for Australian wine at the moment. Since the China tariffs, we’ve had to do a lot of work there as China was one of our biggest markets. We’ve also been working on reactivating Japan.”
Geber shared with db that he plans to position the brand towards ‘high wealth’ individuals and is “going big time on old vine expressions.”
“This top-end of the market is recession-proof,” he said.
The clientele that Château Tanunda is increasingly seeing favours “unique and limited supply”, which is something the producer’s heritage Shiraz vines have in spades.
“Their roots can reach down 30ft,” he said. “We can prove that the most consistent and beautiful wines from around the world come from their own roots.”
“Australia lost its way a bit in telling its premium story,” added Michelle Geber, managing director for the winery. “Our vision is to bring premium, luxury Australian wine to the world.”
Plans are afoot to open a Duty Free focus in Sydney airport to further establish the Château Tanunda name with international travellers, both from Asia and elsewhere.