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Wine distribution app links small Australian producers with restaurants and bottle shops

Food & Wine

An Australian wine distribution app aimed at connecting boutique producers with high-end restaurants and independent bottle shops will launch next week.

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The ootra app allows small wine producers to cut out the middleman and sell directly to restaurants and wine merchants.

Seventeen wineries from regions around Australia including McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Barossa, Margaret River, Yarra Valley and Tasmania have so far signed up for the app ahead of its April 13 launch.

Ootra has been developed in Adelaide, South Australia, and runs on desktop, Android, and iPhone devices.

Director Richard van Ruth said there was already interest in the app from restaurants and hotels around Australia including Rocker Bondi Sydney, Melbas Gold Coast, MoVida Melbourne, State Buildings Perth and 2KW Adelaide.

He said it had been deliberately constructed on the Amazon web services platform to allow for an eventual worldwide release.

“Top end restaurants are clambering to find direct supply chain solutions for very high quality produce from all around the country. They don’t want to necessarily buy from intermediaries, they want a direct line of contact with the producer,” van Ruth said.

“In terms of the bespoke wine products that we’re offering I don’t think there’s anything in Australia that comes near it.

“The traditional model of distribution has been stretched to the point where it is struggling to serve two significant segments of the wine industry: small batch independent winemakers; and, sommeliers, wine bars and pub operators who are trying to source products from smaller, emerging winemakers but are finding it difficult to do so through the more traditional channels.”

A similar product, LibDib, was launched for the American market in California and New York in March 2017 and has grown to 2000 products across 450 brands in its first 12 months.

Van Ruth said he was buoyed by LibDib’s success in the United States and it gave him confidence ootra would lead to a much-needed step change in the Australian industry.

He said the transactions occurred on the ootra app and a third party logistics provider had been engaged to handle the warehousing and shipping meaning that an order of a wine from a variety of winemakers would be delivered at the one time on the one invoice rather than being shipped and billed separately from the individual wineries.

“For trade the benefits are simple. They can streamline their ordering process and save time, discover great wines, and connect directly with winemakers in their own time,” van Ruth said.

“Our main market will be on-premise but as we grow we’ll broaden and I can certainly see a time down the track when we’ll have a relevant offer for that next tier of retail – the pub bottle shops and Celebrations type of stores around Australia.”

Darryl Catlin is the former head winemaker at renowned Adelaide Hills winery Shaw + Smith and is the current winemaker at Sidewood Estate, also in the Adelaide Hills.

Since 2013 he has also had his own label, Catlin Wines, which produces 2000-3000 cases a year and will be available through ootra.

Adelaide Hills winemaker Darryl Catlin will sell his wine through the ootra. Picture Cath Leo.

Catlin said ootra provided an opportunity to reach new markets with his wines, particularly along Australia’s East Coast.

He said ootra would allow him to focus on sourcing quality fruit and making interesting wines rather than having to spend large amounts of time marketing and selling his products.

“It will streamline the process and that’s what it’s about but it will also help reach new markets and it will allow me to look at what restaurants are targeting certain price points or certain wines and I’ll be able to make direct contact with them,” Catlin said.

“It’s certainly another way for the smaller winemakers to access some of the top restaurants and it will also help with their brand exposure and give consumers a chance to try some new and exciting things they haven’t seen as yet.

“When you start out on your own it’s a clean slate and you have to get out and prove yourself again and part of the opportunity with ootra will help do that.”

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