The Rise of the Australian Artisan Wine Business

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To the utmost surprise of many, Australian wine business has transcended the vast national borders and is stealing the international show as we speak. It was not always like this and most of you may not remember that the exports of Australian wine were off to a shaky start at the beginning of the century.

Poor quality was the main culprit behind this disaster: Australian wines were over the top in all the wrong categories, such as acidity and ripeness.  Now, though, the country offers diverse and thrilling craft wines. Not only that, it is home to winemaking champions that raise the old craft to the level of a modern art.  

In the limelight

One of the best proofs that the Australian wine industry is a force to be reckoned with came in the form of this year’s London Wine Fair.

The Artisans of Australian Wine won the prestigious Trade Drinks Event of the Year in the Drinks Business Award 2017. This means that they have been recognized as the top performers in the international wine industry. This success did not catch aficionados by surprise, because in the previous year, another major wine tasting event took place in London, which focused solely on the new wave of Australian winemakers.

In the US, where Aussie Wine Week took place this September, we come across another demonstration of greatness. These accomplishments undoubtedly work miracles for the global promotion of Australian wine and reflect a steady rise that has been going on for some time in the Land Down Under. As a breakthrough series, they also shed some light on disruptive trends that shape the artisan wine business there.  

But, what changed in the meantime, how did Australia climb the ladder?

Well, a lot of factors were at play here, but most notably, we want to underline a profound paradigm and stylistic shift. It all comes back to the people, in this case, artisan top dogs, who dared to think differently and re-envision the future of the business and craft. Namely, it is clear that innovative and daring winemakers are leading the show, riding proudly on the wave of several trends.

Leaps and bounds

First off, the Basket Range region in the Adelaide Hills has managed to establish itself as a frontrunner.  It represents a bustling cluster of bold artisan winemakers, who offer uncompromising, delicious tasting wines. In only 5 years, the community has sent many shockwaves across the established wine ecosystem. At the same time, numerous free spirits and creative individuals were drawn to this remarkable place.

But, on a broader scale, extraordinary consumer events are popping up across the country. One of them really stands out and is neatly called “The Game of Rhodes”. Namely, the winemakers flock to it to get dressed in Medieval Fantasy costumes and celebrate the joy of sipping red wine as well as white Rhode blends. Another event that sparks attention is Pinot Palooza, a touring Pinot Noir Music Festival.

Minimalist artists

Furthermore, certain game-changing movements are taking place. Take the example of the Natural Wine Movement, which, albeit small, is reshaping the wine industry. Big brands and corporate coteries are definitely taking notice. After all, members of this movement have broken new ground, advocating for and practicing winemaking processes with minimal chemical inputs and as few adjustments as possible.

You could say that they have given new meaning to the “less is more” principle. They blend minimal intervention with olden techniques to great effect. As a result, we are witnessing a surge in traditional techniques such as whole bunch fermentation. Consumers seem to be tickled pink as well. Thanks to such artisans, many people around the globe are enjoying things like preservative free wine and other luxury and lifestyle products.

Not everything in the vineyard is rosy, but things are definitely moving in the right direction and they are moving fast. There are many lessons we can take from the case of Australian. We must understand how a change of perception brought forth new opportunities. We can’t forget what an achievement it is for a country that struggled to overcome great hindrances like a hot climate, inappropriate planting, and rigid mechanized practices to take the world by storm.

Heaven in a bottle

Who would have thought that falling off a cliff in the early 2000s would be such a reverberating wake-up call for the Australian wine industry? Well, innovative wine creators have breathed new life into it, changing in the process its whole purpose and structure. Make no mistake: the artisan wine business is no longer a sideshow. Australian winemakers are propelling themselves to the forefront of the global wine movement.  

To perfect, one has to change. To come on top, one has to disrupt the status quo and take a leap of faith if need be.

Courtesy TheTopTier Digital Media

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