07/05/2008 - 22:00

When the wine sells itself

07/05/2008 - 22:00

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The “no T-shirt” policy neatly summarises the attitude of Eagle Vale’s Guy Gallienne to his craft.

The “no T-shirt” policy neatly summarises the attitude of Eagle Vale’s Guy Gallienne to his craft.

Margaret River’s only French winemaker, Mr Gallienne is uncompromising throughout the winemaking process, right up to marketing his product – without the gimmicks.

“The market in WA is flooded by cheapies from Margaret River. We don’t want to compete with those people,” Mr Gallienne said.

“We’re not a winery for the general public, they can go to all those big places if they want…plus we don’t sell T-shirts.”

Located south of Margaret River, Eagle Vale is owned by American investor, Steve Jacobs. The winery was set up 10 years ago by winemaker Mr Gallienne and his wife, Chantal, to produce top-shelf wine.

Besides the quality of the wine, Mr Gallienne believes the presence on Perth’s best restaurants wine list, together with unique winemaking techniques, have been Eagle Vale’s best form of marketing.

“Combinations of things make good wine, but it doesn’t stop there. You promote your wine through your personality, you could be controversial, you could be unique, or what you call a rarity,” he said.

Included among Eagle Vale’s unique products is a sauvignon blanc fumé (smoked), which involves a specific winemaking traditional from the Loire Valley in France. However, Mr Gallienne consciously avoids using his French background to sell the wine.

“Many people who come here like the wine, and when they ask me where I’m from and I say I’m French, everything changes, every time,” he told WA Business News.

“It doesn’t mean they like the wine better but you’re at a different level straight away. I can’t escape it and it’s 100 per cent to our advantage.”

Moss Wood owner Keith Mugford is another major player in the region who has remained discreet with regard to marketing.

“We retain the quality wine focus; we don’t really see ourselves as being a merchandise business per se,” Mr Mugford said.

“We never had a very elaborate cellar door facility and any investment we made over the years was for the vineyard or the winery.”

Cape Mentelle founder David Hohnen, who’s now involved with McHenry Hohnen Vintners (see page 17), believes it is the nature of any tourist-dominated wine region to develop the merchandise aspect of the industry, and it’s up to educated consumers to find their way to the likes of Eagle Vale and Moss Wood.

“Welcome to the world. Welcome to the Napa Valley [wine region in California], it’s great. You know, if you go to the Napa Valley you can follow the tourist trail, buy your T-shirt, or you can talk to somebody in the local wine bar and find out where there’s real wine happening and go on your little side roads and let everybody else buy T-shirts,” Mr Hohnen said.

As far as Mr Gallienne is concerned, Eagle Vale in its current form will finish with him.

“After me, maybe people may use this place with an outrageous marketing and try to change all the concepts and open a little restaurant, start putting some little chalets. I don’t want to know,” he said.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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