10/08/2004 - 22:00

Jarvis Estate a sea change surprise

10/08/2004 - 22:00

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Matt and Jackie Jarvis bought a property in Bramley, a stone’s throw from Margaret River, three years ago.

Jarvis Estate a sea change surprise

Matt and Jackie Jarvis bought a property in Bramley, a stone’s throw from Margaret River, three years ago.

Their ‘sea change’ involved leaving Perth for a quieter lifestyle with the aim of becoming contract wine grape growers.

Forward to 2004 and the couple is now the driving force behind Jarvis Estate, a label founded on an experimental venture into the Irish marketplace.

The move has paid off for Ms Jarvis, who recently won the International Business Council of Western Australia’s outstanding contribution to business benefiting WA award in the ‘home operated business’ category.

“The idea originally was to have a hobby farm and sell fruit on contract to winemakers,” Ms Jarvis says. “We picked Bramley for the soil quality; being in the Margaret River region it’s well known for its similarity to Bordeaux, and was ideal.

“Our first crop in 2001 was contracted fruit and we had some unexpectedly good feedback from that winemaker.”

The encouraging news prompted the couple to try and make their own wine, some samples of which travelled to Ireland when Ms Jarvis’s father visited family there.

As luck would have it, two bottles of unlabelled shiraz found their way to Dale Gatcum, a London-based family connection who works as a distributor of Californian wine.

Upon his relocation to Dublin not long after, Mr Gatcum began promoting the Jarvis Estate label, and the Margaret River region, in Ireland.

Jarvis Estate is currently producing five varieties: two whites – a sauvignon blanc and chardonnay; and three reds – a shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.

But Ms Jarvis says they haven’t ruled out adding others to the production line.

“We may add a merlot or start planting verdelho, but for the moment we’re sticking to these single varieties,” she says.

“We have all five of these varieties going to Ireland, and having a distributor there helps a lot.

“We’ve since expanded into Greece and Canada, and Moscow, where we have some cases going to the embassy there.

“Canada is a tough market to break into as a licence for each province is required.”

Ms Jarvis says they also have secured sales with buyers from Singapore, who travelled to several WA wineries prior to making orders, as well as expressions of interest from a wine trader in Istanbul, where tastings were recently held.

On the home front, Jarvis Estate has a distributor in Melbourne who has been targeting the restaurant market there, and Ms Jarvis hopes to add a Sydney-sider to the team in the near future.

“We’ve been predominantly focusing on niche markets and alternative markets – in Perth, and especially here in Margaret River, there are new labels cropping up so often,” she says

“Finding key niche markets is the best option for us at the moment. We haven’t looked at opening a cellar door here, although we can do tastings at the farm by appointment.”

Mr Jarvis has been working full-time as an agribusiness finance specialist over the course of the label’s growth and expansion, managing the vineyard after hours, while Ms Jarvis heads up the sales, marketing and export departments.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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