By Ian Neubauer
“Sales of our wines within Australia have more than met our expectations and now the next stage is to make our mark in the States,” said Oatley Wines deputy executive chairman, Chris Hancock. “Our history of success in the States is well known and we’ve a lot of friends over here in the wine trade who’ve made us feel most welcome.”
The move flies in the face of tumultuous market conditions that have seen the Foster’s Group lose money hand over fist with its Napa Valley-based Beringer Wine Estates and Constellation Wines sell off tens of millions of dollars worth of wine assets.
But Hancock said the family nevertheless feels the US presents strong growth potential for its premium wine.
“Some people may question our timing, what with the value of the dollar and the slow down of Australian wine exports to the US. However it’s precisely these distractions that can provide us with opportunities we seek. The first orders against our initial shipment of 300,000 bottles have been most heartening – and we’ve the support of an outstanding team of distributors.”
The Robert Oatley wines will be launched in eight American states and retail for around US$20. The range comprises five distinctively different table wines from the family’s Mudgee vineyards and those of other SA and WA growers.
They include a 2007 Chardonnay (Mudgee Australia), 2007 Shiraz (Mudgee Australia), 2008 Sauvignon Blanc (Western Australia), 2008 Pinot Grigio (South Australia) and 2008 Rosé of Sangiovese (Mudgee Australia).
Bob Oatley’s Oatley Wines is built around seven family-owned vineyards in the Mudgee region on the central tablelands of NSW. In 2006 they released six Wild Oats and two Robert Oatley wines, followed by their first vintages of the historic Montrose label in May this year.
The family has invested heavily in the Mudgee region, including a $10 million development of a small batch winemaking facility at the 10,000 tonne Montrose Winery, and a large bottling hall and packaged wine storage facility at the rear.