Wine Tasmania is the peak industry body representing grape growers and wine producers in Tasmania. It was formed in 2006 following agreement by wine producers that there was a need for representation by a state body. With 100 licensed wine producers in their membership and counting, the strong and growing Tasmanian wine industry is known worldwide for the quality of their cool-climate wines.
Wine Tasmania’s key role is the marketing and promotion of Tasmanian wine brands, focusing on the mainland Australian and local Tasmanian marketplaces, as well as a limited focus on key export markets. Through this export marketing there is a key focus on tourism, encouraging the public to travel to Tasmania to visit the vineyards. Another duty is growing and supporting sustainable production, in which grape growers and winemakers are helped to get the best results they can through their vineyards and wineries, to ensure lasting quality.
Membership services and support are a major responsibility as well. Wine Tasmania delivers a range of seminars, workshops, information factsheets, news, and access through grant programs. “…Anything Wine Tasmania can do to support its member businesses in any way they can,” says Sheralee Davies, Wine Tasmania’s CEO. Sheralee formerly headed the PR department at Constellation (formerly Accolades), as well as a variety of roles with the Wine Makers Federation of Australia
Advocacy and Issues management is the fourth key role of Wine Tasmania. “As the state wine body, we play a role in terms of approaching the state government, as well as to a lesser degree, the federal government, to see support to help our wine sector grow,” explains Davies. Primarily, Wine Tasmania advocates for any obstacles for the success of winemakers to be removed. As well, they look for support in the area of market development, and for sustainable growth and production to make sure that quality is maintained and built.
Wine Tasmania promotes continuous education within grape growers and wine makers. They are very much focused on ensuring that only the best quality grapes and wine are produced. A continuous education process is maintained, so as to continue increasing their quality focus. “It’s important that we keep building on the knowledge that we have, so that we can continue to innovate, continue to make sure that we get that high quality,” says Davies.
There is a range of programs that Wine Tasmania undertakes to raise awareness of Tasmanian wine, from inward trade and media programs, to touring information with a focus on getting members of the public to come to Tasmania and grow their knowledge of the wine produced there. Events are also run, both locally and on the Australian mainland, as their priority market focus. “Our focus is very much on Tasmanian wine as a part of the Australian wine story, but also very much on Tasmanian wine, and the reason for that is that the vast majority of our producers only sell in Tasmania. Our focus is really on promoting Tasmania, the local Tasmanian marketplace and the Australian mainland marketplace,” says Davies.
“The International Cool Climate Wine Symposium (ICCWS) we held here in February last year was a huge event,” says Davies “And it was a huge event for Tasmania but also the Australian wine industry more broadly.” The ICCWS is a series of international events, and Wine Tasmania held the eighth event in February of 2012. This was only the second time an event was hosted in Australia as a whole, and the first time ever for Tasmania itself. Wine Tasmania was able to use the event to share the results of a three-year research project that had been based in Tasmania, but with national significance. For the project Wine Tasmania had partnered with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture and also the Australian Wine Research Institute. “It was looking at how we can improve the quality of pinot noir and sparkling wines in cool-climate areas. The ICCWS really gave us the platform to be able to disseminate the results of that research,” says Davies. “Importantly, the ICCWS provided a strong global marketing platform and we are still seeing media coverage as a result of that event more than twelve months ago, and it’s happening right around the world.”
There are a number of activities being undertaken by Wine Tasmania to promote Tasmania’s premium cool-climate wines. In particular, they have been looking to partner with local food producers in Tasmania. “When we talk about Tasmanian wine, we talk about Tasmanian food, we talk about the style of our wines and how they’re suited to food, and so partnering more and more with food producers here in Tasmania is very complementary and beneficial.” Wine Tasmania also works with the growing whiskey and cider industries to help promote the overall Tasmanian brand, and wine as a part of that. Other recent projects are their national inward trade buyer program, and the Tasmanian Wine List of the Year competition, focused on local restaurants. “It’s part of recognizing the fantastic support we have for our local wines here,” says Davies.
Grapes and wine are expensive to produce in Tasmania’s climate. Consequentially, in order to continue their remarkable growth and success, the Tasmanian wine industry is constantly updating its business strategies, and developing new ways of reaching out to the consumer locally, on the Australian mainland, and all over the world. “It’s 2013,” says Davies “and the big focus of Wine Tasmania is going to be getting a bit more of an understanding of the different models that wine businesses are operating against, understanding where the big costs are, where the big challenges are, and seeing how we can seek to improve the returns that our wine businesses are seeing,”