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Boutique Australian wineries take less trodden path to Verona

Food & Wine

SIX small Australian wine companies are banding together to showcase their offerings at one of the world’s biggest wine industry events next week.

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More than 150,000 people are expected at Vinitaly – Europe’s largest wine event – in Verona from April 9-12, which attracts commercial buyers from the world’s largest customer bases including Europe, Asia and North America.

South Australian wine marketing company Winestate Publishing will lead the group to the event where it will be one of the only Australian exhibitors in the international pavilion.

It will be the eighth year Winestate has taken wine companies to Vinitaly.

Winestate’s Marketing Director Peter Jackson said boutique Australian wineries had traditionally had success in making deals at Vinitaly for distribution in countries including in Scandinavia, Denmark and the Czech Republic.

He said Winestate would host a series of master classes at Vinitaly with representatives from the Association of Italian Sommeliers to showcase “top end premium products”.

“We’re trying to lift the profile – the wines we are presenting have to be able to hold their own in a master class,” Jackson said.

“The class is just one part of it – the trade buyers tend to come and visit us at our stand throughout the duration of the show.

“Our experience shows that smaller wineries prepared to travel overseas on a supported visit like this, can often source suitable agents and potential customers in those countries, something you cannot do from your cellar door.”

Four of the six participating wineries are from South Australia: Totino Estate (Adelaide Hills), Gatt Wines (Barossa Valley), Caught Red Handed (McLaren Vale) and 3 Rings (Adelaide Hills). Victorian winery Broken River Vineyards and Umamu Estate from Margaret River in Western Australia will also attend.

Gatt Wines produces about 8000 cases a year of estate-grown premium wines across eight varieties, the majority of which is exported to Hong Kong, China, Japan, South Korea and Germany.

Owner Ray Gatt said he had been to ProWein in Germany in the past but would attend Vinitaly next week for the first time.

“Obviously we’re trying to find some new importers for our wine in Europe and create interest in the company’s wines from the Barossa and Eden valleys,” he said.

“In Continental Europe there’s not a great understanding about Australia so you have to be there and pour the wine – that makes a huge difference.

“We are looking at the Netherlands and Poland but also Scandinavia – we’ll just have to see what happens when we’re there.”

It will be Totino Estate’s fourth trip to Vinitaly.

The Adelaide Hills winery exported about 1600 cases to Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland last year and hopes to increase its European distribution to about 2500 cases in 2017.

Managing Director Don Totino said Vinitaly was an opportunity to meet with existing distributors and pursue new opportunities in Europe.

“A lot of people from all over the world go to Vinitaly and it is in the beautiful city of Verona so it is a central meeting place for Italian and European wines,” he said.

“We do have distribution in Italy at the moment and there is a lot of interest in Australian wine – people are curious about it.”

It has been a big few weeks for Australian wineries looking to broaden their export horizons.

The Wine Australia exhibit at ProWein 2017 from March 19 to 21 in Germany featured 500 wines from 76 wineries across 39 varieties and 34 Australian regions while more than 20 Australian wine companies representing 50 brands had a strong presence at the China Food & Drinks Fair in Chengdu from 23 to 25 March.

Australia was the world’s fifth largest wine-producing nation in 2016 behind Italy, France, Spain and the United States.

South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production including almost 80 per cent of the nation’s premium wine.

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