13/11/2007 - 22:00

Preserving the talent pool

13/11/2007 - 22:00

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Renowned winemaker Dan Pannell can’t speak more highly of Arch Kosovich’s Liqueur Muscat fortified wine.

Preserving the talent pool

Renowned winemaker Dan Pannell can’t speak more highly of Arch Kosovich’s Liqueur Muscat fortified wine.

“They talk about Rutherglen being good, but nothing compares,” Mr Pannell says. “It is one of the most amazing things you will ever drink.”

It’s an interesting statement from Mr Pannell, considering he is at the same wine tasting event as Mr Kosovich, attempting to entice punters to his Picardy wine label.

But championing each other is at the heart of their marketing initiative, Second Generation Winemakers, which was the headline banner of a special wine tasting event held in Perth last week.

Second Generation Winemakers was formed late in 2005 with a simple idea – to pool the resources of a formidable group of winemakers and create an event showcasing the diversity among their wine styles, while also promoting the unique aspects of family winemaking.

Mr Pannell and Mr Kosovich have known each other since the late 1980s, when Mr Pannell’s father, Bill, and Mr Kosovich’s dad, John, bought vineyards in the Pemberton region to add a new component to their winery operations.

Viewed by many as a pioneer of the industry, Bill Pannell founded Margaret River’s Moss Wood, while Swan Valley winery Westfield Wines was renamed a few years ago in honour of John Kosovich’s 50th vintage.

It is their vineyard heritage that the younger Messrs Pannell and Kosovich are promoting through their Second Generation Winemakers marketing initiative.

Originally, the initiative comprised five members, including Wignalls, Edwards Wines and Frankland Estate, but it has now expanded to seven with the inclusion of Lenton Brae and Conti Wines.

Jason Conti, who grew up in the then rural township of Wanneroo watching his dad, Paul, craft wines, now eyes off housing developments encroaching on the family vineyards.

While the Wanneroo vineyards are likely to give way to development in the coming decades, the brand is secure, with the Contis owning vineyards further north, in Carabooda, as well as in Cowaramup. Mr Conti and his father are also eying potential vineyard operations in the state’s South West.

Mr Conti attended the first Second Generation Winemakers wine tasting event in late 2005, where about 1,000 people went through the doors.

“It was pretty good and I thought if they attract this kind of numbers it is a cost-effective way to promote our product,” Mr Conti says.

This year’s event, held across two function rooms at the Perth Flying Squadron Yacht Club last week, attracted more than just the wineries, with Jerry Fraser shucking oysters, Capel Cheese and other food producers showcasing their wares.

It provided an opportunity for wine punters to try new release wines as well as some cellar-door-only favourites, like Lenton Brae’s No Way Rose, which second-generation winemaker Ed Tomlinson says he made under protest.

“It is my not-so-silent protest [to his mother, Jeanette] at having to make it,” Mr Tomlinson says.

But, jokes aside, he is confident about the dry style he has produced.

“It had to be something that I could show without cringing so it is a dry rose and it is a serious rose,” he says.

The seven wineries are hoping to expand the wine-tasting concept and are looking for another three second-generation winemakers or vineyard operators to join the network.

There are plans to take the concept offshore, with Asian markets firmly in sight.

If it proves popular they could also look to do an event in the US.

Frankland Estate’s Hunter Smith says joining together was a good way to promote the boutique offering each producer had.

“It broadens the appreciation for wineries of our size and the individuality of the wines we make and the regions they come from,” Mr Smith says.

For Mr Kosovich, who claims he is no marketing guru, reckons wine tastings are one of the best ways to sell wine.

“This is the best way to sell wine,” he says. “It is hands on and it is personal.”

Mr Kosovich says while marketing was important his biggest challenge remained in winemaking.

“The challenge is to make better wine each year,” Mr Kosovich says. “We are not marketing gurus but if I am happy with the product it will sell itself.”

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