Ross Brown may have stepped down from his role as CEO of Brown Brothers earlier this year but, in his capacity as chairman of Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW), remains an influential figure in the local industry.

TheShout asked him to reflect on the impact of AFFW as the partnership heads into its second year of existence.

“Australia’s First Families of wine was created by twelve multi generational family companies understanding that working collectively, particularly in the export market, added more value than what they were able to achieve individually.

There are very few businesses where a common vision for the future can create a collaborative effort between fierce competitors.

The member’s vineyards span virtually all of the major viticultural areas of Australia and truly represent the geographical diversity of the country.

Having launched in the UK in May 2010 it has been pleasing to see the positive media that has resulted from the subsequent events and activities.

Significant criticism in the UK of the Australian wine industry, was a by-product of its enormous success and dominant market share.

However, a significant volume of sales were at lower price points and to some extent this clouded the image of the great wines that Australia was well known for producing.

Under the traditional family banner AFFW set about showcasing the ‘heart and soul’ of Australian wine with the ‘best of the best’ from great regional vineyards.

This was clearly appreciated and follow up events have been planned again this year around the London Wine Trade Fair in May.

There will also be a launch in Canada in the first week of May that will include activities in conjunction with the liquor boards in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver that will combine trade and consumer events.

The publication and launch of a book entitled ‘Heart & Soul’ by Graeme Lofts has been very successful in the Australian market and will be launched in England and Canada as part of our activities this year.

The book leverages the rich stories of the 12 family companies, their growth and development over many generations, highlighting the adversities of nature and the farming elements of wine growing combined with their love and passion for the business.

Perhaps the most surprising outcome of the group working together has been the realisation that there is no forum that brings the next generation of family members together and AFFW fills this void.

There is real excitement among the next generation to become involved and to learn and know in detail each of the other producers.

A visitors program is being arranged for later in the year where members of the next generation will spend a weekend visiting each other, initially in South Australia, with trips planned in other states next year.

At all our events and meetings the next generation are actively encouraged to be involved and it was this dimension that really caught the attention of the UK wine media at our launch.

To review what has been achieved over the 18 months, since our Sydney launch, it must be acknowledged that the group has gone from strength to strength with real commitment and participation from all of the members.

The responsibility of articulating the great values and traditions of the Australian wine industry has never been more important.

We are competing at higher price points in all our export markets due to changes in exchange rates and to maintain our leadership position we must ‘wow’ our customers with a compelling offer that is beyond price.

This requires all the traditional values of history, passion, and above all else great stories; who better to tell those stories than members of the family who live and breathe the business every day.”

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The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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