By Andy Young
Following a successful year of new product development and vineyard acquisitions, De Bortoli Wines is open to expanding its portfolio through joint ventures or agency agreements.
De Bortoli’s Sales Operations Manager, Vince Gurciullo, told TheShout that Managing Director Darren De Bortoli said while the company is interested in looking at new opportunities, he only wants to work with organisations with a family tradition, a particularly strong story to the brand, or that have something unique about them.
“We’re in a position as a business where we are in good shape, and we’ve made a couple of vineyard acquisitions in the last 12 months,” Gurciullo said.
“We made an acquisition in the Yarra Valley, where we bought the Lusatia Park vineyard and we’ve also bought a vineyard in Heathcote known as Freemans Bridge. But in addition to this, we’ve have a few other brands, one is a joint venture with Brent Marris which is our 3 Tales Sauvignon Blanc out of Marlborough, we are an agent for an organic Prosecco called Divici and we are also the agents for Veuve Fourny & Fils Champagne.
“We’ve done well with these brands and we are growing these joint ventures and agency brands. We have been getting a few knocks on the door from some other companies and if the right thing comes along, that fits in with the company’s family tradition and values, then we are definitely interested in taking a look at it.”
De Bortoli has enjoyed a successful year with some of the new products launched attributing to, what Gurciullo called, “a fantastic sales result so far this financial year.”
Those new products include Sheep Shape Sauvignon Blanc, Woodfired Shiraz and the new Down the Lane range, which Gurciullo says highlights that the company is able to grow multiple and theoretically competing brands.
“With the Sheep Shape, which is an Australian Sauvignon Blanc with a ‘quirky Label’ that is now the third biggest selling Australian Sauvignon Blanc, we thought that the 3 Tales Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, that we have in the joint venture with Brent, might suffer but both are doing extremely well in their own right.
“And we thought the same thing that the Divici DOC Organic Prosecco would suffer when we launched the De Bortoli King Valley Prosecco, but King Valley Prosecco is now the fourth biggest selling Australian Prosecco and Divici is up 50 per cent in sales as well.
“So it’s a nice thing to have these products moving and it proves that we are able to handle a range of products being in the portfolio.”
It’s a similar story with De Bortoli’s Woodfired Heathcote Shiraz, which came about because the company looked at how it might take a piece of the huge Barossa Shiraz market.
Gurciullo said: “We knew we had access to some great Heathcote fruit, which in some ways emulates the style and profiles of a big Barossa Shiraz. So we had a look at the top three market leaders for Australian Shiraz and we developed and produced a stylish wine in a similar style in terms of its flavour profile.
“We then positioned it strategically against some of the leading labels and dollars-wise it’s now the eighth best-selling Shiraz in the independent trade, between $17 and $22 and that wine is not even one year old yet.”
And while new product development is definitely important for the company, De Bortoli is also now taking stock of its portfolio and how it can complement the existing brands and any gaps with either joint ventures or agency products.
“While we’ve done great things with the Woodfired Shiraz, Sheep Shape and our King Valley Prosecco I do think at some stage we have got to look at other products to complement our current portfolio and offering to the wider market. In terms of Champagne, we’ve got to a point with Veuve Fourny, whereby this year we are 21 per cent up on the previous year and that previous year we were approximately 150 per cent up,” Gurciullo told TheShout.
“Being a ‘grower Champagne’ brand, Veuve Fourny can only produce a finite amount of wine, so we would probably like to have another Champagne product in the De Bortoli portfolio. But we’re not going to buy a Champagne brand or vineyard, so really we’re looking for a JV or agency-type arrangement.
“Other specific areas, we’re keen to explore are options within the imported table wines category, Argentinian Malbec, Italian and Spanish wines are continually growing and being sought out by the savvy Australian wine consumer. Even Margaret River, we have people asking us all the time about that region but we just haven’t found the right wine yet; we want that fit, the family aspect, making sure there is a story or that there is a match to our beliefs and values.”
Anyone interested in talking to De Bortoli Wines about possible joint ventures or agency deals should contact Vince Gurciullo at the company’s Melbourne office.