05/10/2004 - 22:00

Gusto Vino - Maher reads market

05/10/2004 - 22:00


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Gusto Vino - Maher reads market

Shaun Maher’s wholesale business Liquid Library celebrated its first year of operation last week.

Mr Maher says it’s been a solid year and his success to date has come through sticking with quality wines and offering those in the industry from outside the State intimate knowledge of the local market (Mr Maher used to be Altos’ sommelier).

“It’s gone very well and I’m where I was pitching myself to be in a couple of years’ time,” Mr Maher says.

“I made a conscious effort to represent quality producers and they are often smaller. Most wholesalers get in the big volumes to make the profit and I came from the angle of quality.”

And Mr Maher says growth should be strong as emerging wineries, such as Millbrook Winery, for which he is distributor, grow their sales and portfolios.

“While I’ve got as much as I want to do right now there is room to grow. A lot of the wineries are up and coming and even some one like Millbrook will provide growth as volumes increase. As that happens our sales will grow,” he says.

Mr Maher says independent wholesalers can make inroads into national business.

“I’m the exclusive distributor of Irvine in WA, but they use a national distributor for the rest of Australia,” he says.

“I think that a lot of companies recognise that WA is a different market and to go with an independent wholesaler can sometimes be good, because having a national focus might not be good for the label.”

Mr Maher’s portfolio includes Champagne-based family wineries Gosset and Jacquesson, Barossa Valley’s Torbreck Vinters, Margaret River winery Higher Plane and Phil Sexton’s Innocent Bystander label.

• • •

Paul Ogilvie has left his position as director of sales and marketing at Virgin Block Wines.

Mr Ogilvie said the decision about his role was made after the company’s owner Don Russell Holdings opted to change the direction of the business, which could also include closing Virgin Block’s cellar door.

“The owner of Virgin Block wanted to make a change in business direction, so I’m now looking to the future and looking at options elsewhere,” he says.

“I think they might be closing the cellar door and making some other changes as well.”

Mr Ogilivie leaves Virgin Block after 14 months with the winemaker and is currently in the process of exploring new opportunities in the local wine industry.

“I’ve been talking to another Margaret River winery who has some good things going on at the moment. I can’t say who as nothing has been confirmed yet but I can say they are a fairly small family business,” he says.

“They’ve had some success recently in the new James Halliday book, I think, as one of the top new wineries.”

At last count there are only three winemakers that fall into this category so chances are it’s either Watershed Premium Wines, Tintagel Wines or Eagle Vale Wines.

For sales enquiries at Virgin Block contact Ashleigh Russell.

Carbanup Crest Wines has undergone a makeover in a move to better suit its product line.

The brand was previously traveling under the name Cella Rage, but will soon re-emerge sporting the new name and outfit, which includes a newly designed signature logo and refined appearance.

Carbunup Crest Wines director Kris Meares says the process of rebranding was partly motivated by the quality of the wine but was also in response to some reviewers who described the Cella Rage label as “kitsch”.

“We were in the medium market to begin with but we realised later we were beyond this,” he says.

“Our 2002 vintage produced four medals from two shows, and our 2003 vintage produced 33 medals from eight shows.

“The response from some wine writers also helped us develop the concept, which will shift from the 20 to 30 year age market to a slightly older group.”

SMR director Samantha Reece was recruited to oversee the transformation, which centred on the need to align the product and image.

“Carbunup Crest was in production as Cella Rage for about three or four years, but couldn’t break into a higher end market,” she says.

“The new face incorporates a number of themes close to the wine; the silver label was drawn from silver awards won, the Greek styling in the image is taken from Greek mythology and wine being described as the juice of the gods, and the vines represent tradition.”

The end result is the product of nearly a year’s work, and is estimated to appear on shelves in a few months time, although those dedicated sippers on Carbunup’s mailing list will be the first to get a glimpse of the new look.


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