Wine families target premium drinkers

Some of the nation's best known winemaking families will focus on relaunching Australia's position in overseas markets to change the industry's reputation for producing "cheap and cheerful' wine and generate a greater focus on premium product that attracts higher prices.

Some of the nation's best known winemaking families will focus on relaunching Australia's position in overseas markets to change the industry's reputation for producing "cheap and cheerful' wine and generate a greater focus on premium product that attracts higher prices.

Mitchell Taylor, chief executive of Taylors Wines, said placing more emphasis on wines that typically sell for above $15 a bottle would help cushion the squeeze caused by the high dollar.

"What's on our agenda is to help put the colour back into relaunching the Australian wine industry overseas," said Mr Taylor, who was recently appointed as third chairman of Australia's First Families of Wine since its creation in 2009.

"We are doing it because of the brutal perfect storm we have been going through recently and the image of Australian wine abroad is not as premium as it should be."

The First Families of Wine was an initiative created four years ago by 12 families to help promote the diversity and quality of Australian wine and the historic role families have played in the industry's success. Its members include some of the oldest family wine companies in Australia including Yalumba, De Bortoli, Tahbilk, Campbells, Henschke and Brown Brothers.

Speaking on Monday before the group's maiden wine tasting masterclass in Brisbane, Mr Taylor said Australia's first big push into overseas markets decades ago was aimed at low price points, which might have made good business sense at the time but was now in need of renewal.

"The idea of Australia's First Families of Wine is to promote our very top premium wines that are really the wines [we need] to promote to be sustainable as an industry in the long term."

The group will soon conduct its first Asian tour with a visit to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

Mr Taylor said China was a crucial market in which Australia was well placed, with the Chinese culture enamoured by family ownership and a sense of tradition.

Turning to the high dollar, which makes Australian exports more expensive to overseas buyers, Mr Taylor said the wine sector would like to see the currency depreciate by another 5 per cent to 10 per cent in the next 12 months.

"At the same time we have to be able to sell wines at the highest price and to compete with the best of Europe and the best of California," he said.

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