Locals roll out barrel

A PERTH building company and a

cabinet maker are looking at a possible joint venture to capture benefits from the huge growth spurt in South West wineries and produce barrels – in place of imported ones from Europe.

While still studying the feasibility of replacing imported barrels, Armadale builders Daly and Shaw and cabinet maker A&A Kitchens believe there is room for them to build on their

expertise and produce quality barrels.

About 100,000 barrels a year are demanded by Australian industry, with prices of up to $1,600 per barrel achieved by importers.

The market in WA is estimated to be about 5,000 a year with the Houghton, Vasse Felix and Palandri wineries demanding the bulk of the barrels.

While the consortium acknowledges it would be impossible to capture the whole market, even a 20 per cent market share would make the project feasible.

Vasse Felix and Palandri have already expressed interest in the concept with Palandri Wines indicating it would look at taking up to 100 barrels in the first year as a trial.

A&A Kitchens managing director John Dykstra said it was important to get the product into the marketplace

so that wine producers could test it with their wines.

“We will provide good service and we aim to make a very high quality barrel,” Mr Dykstra said.

Price is secondary in the barrel market – while quality and service is essential, according to Mr Dykstra.

He commented that the price wineries were prepared to pay was directly related to the quality of the barrels.

However, the stakes are high with no return forecast for at least the first year. There is also no guarantee that the product will be sold if the quality does not match wineries’ expectations.

Having a qualified cooper is perceived as the key and, at the moment, there are only two in WA.

Daly & Shaw director Robert Shaw said the product had to be proven quickly in order to succeed.

“If we can get into three wineries in the first year, put thirty barrels in each one and we get a clean bill of health – then we are set,” Mr Shaw said.

About $700,000 is needed to provide the capacity to produce up to 40,000 barrels a day and the scope to employ up to forty staff.

Palandri Winery CEO Darryl Jarvis said he was firmly behind the concept because it would provide local jobs as well as reduce the import risks.

He said benefits included lower exchange rate risk because import costs would be only apply to imported raw timber – not the finished product.

The group also believes tourism opportunities and the production of personalised smaller barrels could be a possibility in the future.

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