Blaxland Vineyards in the Barossa Valley has increased sales by 450 percent in just five years.
In the 2015-2016 financial year Blaxland turned over more than $3 million in wine sales – up from just $500,000 in 2010 – spread across seven international markets including the USA, UK and China.
Proprietor Ron Collins puts the stunning growth down to diversification and value-adding.
A managed investment scheme launched in 1995 during the heady days of the Australian wine boom, Blaxland Vineyards has not just outlived most of its ambitious competitors from that era, but prospered through “good strategic management”.
“That includes value-adding the winegrapes from our 600 hectares of vineyards to now produce and sell under several different labels as well as acquiring some established Barossa wine brands,” Ron says.
Ron also credits the success of the business to commercial director Craig Thomas, who was appointed in 2011 to breathe new life into the company after a career as export manager with Australian Vintage Limited.
“The mid-2000s was a tough time in the wine industry with a high Australian dollar putting pressure on prices and a drought affecting production,” Mr Thomas says.
“Although we had contracts with most of the major wine companies, our strategy was to move up the value chain. We had to move away from just being a grapegrower and price-taker to developing our own brands and selling our own wine.
“Ron had great foresight developing our vineyard portfolio in the Barossa and Limestone Coast, which are premium, internationally recognisable regions. Our Tanunda Hill and Barton Steer brands had provenance and credibility from the start. These are competitively priced, great tasting wines that Australian and international consumers are looking for.
“It’s all very well to talk $100 bottles of Shiraz, but most consumers buy between $12 and $20 and that’s the space we have been successful in.”
The company recently decided to premiumise its portfolio, acquiring two established boutique Barossa brands, Duck Duck Goose and Domain Barossa.
“These small-production brands will enable us to push price points into the better margin $20 to $30 a bottle category,” Mr Thomas said.
“We are also establishing a home for the Blaxland portfolio this year. Domain Barossa has always had a cellar door in the main street of Tanunda, and we intend to utilise this space too with wine tastings, food/wine pairings and other opportunities..”
The success story was topped off recently when Blaxland Vineyards won a Platinum Award for Best in Show (under 15 pounds) at the Decanter World Wine Awards in London for its Tanunda Hill 2014 Barossa Shiraz.
The only Australian red wine to win the award this year – out of more than 16,000 entries worldwide – Ron said the win was a major coup for Blaxland.
“The UK trophy follows a 95-point gold medal win at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show last year for our 2014 Barton Steer Limestone Coast Shiraz,” he says.
“These awards are an outstanding achievement and highlight our evolution from vineyard owner and manager, to an award-winning Barossa Valley wine producer.
Blaxland has established its own vineyard management team – Stirling Vineyard Services – which provides pruning, vineyard maintenance and harvesting contracting to other local growers as well as its own company vineyards.