Dan's Blog


Friday, June 01, 2018

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the amazing creativity of the d’Arenberg Cube, a real work of art. This week I would like to highlight a few other smart/creative things that are/should be happening in the wine industry.

ALASKA:  As you can imagine wine logistics in Alaska are a major challenge given the ambient temperatures. Well, the creative people at Alaska Air have offered their passengers the ability to ship a dozen bottles of wine – for free – every time they fly. The airline operates in Alaska and the West Coast of the USA, predominantly from Oregon and Washington States.

In the first two years of this service, they have flown 7,000 cases of wine for their customers. A great concept! An extra 16 kilos of weight on the plane is inconsequential, and yet the goodwill it creates with the customers is priceless.

CELLAR DOORS:  Any Australian winery that does not offer free freight to major cities for its Cellar Door or Mail Order customers, is shooting itself in the foot.

Consider the customers’ thought process: “I just spent $XXX on their wines and now they want me to pay to have it delivered!!!” It is a huge negative amongst the wine lovers that I know.

How much more customer friendly is it if the winery mail-out says in big letters, “FREE DELIVERY (to major cities)”.

I hear you say: “But, but, but… it costs heaps to send the wine to different cities and it would erode my margins!”

Do your sums and see how a price rise across the board of say $1 per bottle at Cellar Door/Mail Order equates with the cost of sending bottles to the major cities. It is a case of “swings & roundabouts” where some locations would cost more but others less and for those who come in and take their purchases with them, you gain $1. You do the maths so as to make the exercise ‘cost neutral’ to your business, BUT it is a big plus for your potential customers – “FREE DELIVERY”. Think about it.

A SIGN OF THE TIMES:  Given the rapidly growing influx of Chinese visitors to Australia and more specifically to our wine regions, a few of the smarter operators are gradually introducing signage in Chinese. Unfortunately, the regional wine bodies seem to be too dinosaurish to do so, however, the clever Cellar Door operators are starting too. Stop and think about it. Almost anywhere in the world you visit, there are signs in English, making it so much easier for us to find our way around the place. In some cities such as Seoul, they even have the signs in three languages (including English).

So, if you are in one of the many wine growing regions that are within easy reach of a major city and want to encourage Chinese visitors to your establishment (so that you can raise your revenue) don’t you think you should pull your fingers out and start to show them the way to get to you, in their own language? Here’s a tip: the wealthier ones (more likely to spend up on wine) do not travel in a guided tour bus load.

Be smart, make a start by adding Chinese to the road sign that points the way to your winery, before the mob down the road do it and snuffle most of the Chinese visitors.

Remember that there are nearly 2,500 wineries in Australia and after taking out the biggest 10 or 20, the other 2,480 are fighting for a mere 15% (give or take) of the market. So how about doing a few smarter things in order to stack the odds in your favour. Think about it.


The first vintage of Orlando’s ST HUGO COONAWARRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON that I tasted and fell in love with, was the 1986 (from the year I got married). I still have one or two bottles tucked away in my cellar waiting to celebrate anniversary milestones. It was a sensational wine with masses of delicious flavours. So much so that it took a mighty effort not to drink it all while it was still a youngster.

ST HUGO was launched in 1980 and named after Hugo Gramp who at the age of 25 took over as the Managing Director of G Gramp & Sons Orlando Wines and spent his life building the company as a premium wine producer.

Thus, it was fitting that the ST HUGO label was launched as a follow on to the Jimmy Watson Trophy winning, Orlando 1978 Cabernet which was a multi-area Cabernet blend. Incidentally, Orlando also won the 1971 Jimmy Watson Trophy with its 1970 Cabernet.

Twenty-nine vintages and several winemakers since the multi-award winning 1986 St Hugo was made, the recently released ST HUGO 2015 COONAWARRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON is equally delicious and delightful but with more depth and concentration than its fabulous ancestor. Having said that, it is still one of the more elegant and sophisticated members of the Coonawarra Cabernet bunch.

This wine is deep in colour, has big, fresh, oaky aromas overlaid on the ripe berry bouquet, which has an attractive hint of cassis.  It seduces the palate with its big, rich, complex, mouth-filling flavours and tight but elegant finish. Beautifully balanced with several layers of flavours.

If given a few years of proper cellaring for the tannins to soften off and allow the divine fruit flavours to come to the fore, this wine will be TRULY STUNNING! Cheers!