It was mentioned in last week’s column that there is feedback requested in regard to the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) discussion paper. Riverland Wine is doing that on your behalf, and it came to notice that a central plank of the approach is to spend marketing efforts on boosting the demand of ‘fine wine’. The term fine wine is difficult to nail down, and it is likely that if you ask 10 wine drinkers what it means, you will probably get 11 opinions. The initial reaction, as a region that deals primarily in high value wines, is “where is the value in this strategy for us?”
The answer lies in part in the realization that AGWA, which thankfully markets under the banner of ‘Wine Australia’, is a generic marketing body. It has no wine to sell, but instead is trying to promote Australian wine as a generic product. There is also a limited budget, which is a pittance in comparison with the marketing spend of some individual companies, let alone that of other wine marketing nations. Therefore the national marketing body has to do the most to wring out every bit of value for the levy payers’ dollar. The marketing experts are convinced that an upsurge in demand of high value Australian wine will have a ‘trickledown’ effect and lift the demand of all Australian wine. This includes the wine produced here in the Riverland. Increasing demand will increase sales, which in turn will increase value of wine, which increases value of growers’ fruit.
The plan is to concentrate this message through the channels that will have the highest impact – such as sommeliers, wine writers as well as the buyers of wine for the main wine stores overseas. These marketing specialists are adamant that Australian wine is sold too cheap at present, and that improving the market message will go a long way to starting the recovery. So while it is often easy to focus on the low price of grapes and think of the problem as a local one; the current downturn is having an impact on the wine industry around the world. As such the solution and the pathway to any recovery is a global one. It is encouraging to see that AGWA has a positive plan to address this, and that action is under way now.