There is no doubt that the craft scene, while still small, is a hugely important part of the Australian liquor and hospitality landscape right now.

While sales of domestic beer fall, the craft beer market continues to flourish, with a new brewery opening roughly every six days in Australia, and the number of microbreweries in Australia is forecast to grow by five per cent over the next five years.

The craft beer industry currently commands around 10 per cent of the overall beer market and that number is expected to keep increasing.

Last year, Deloitte reported: “Changing consumer tastes, and the shift from quantity to quality have seen the craft beer movement flourish.”

It’s a similar story in the craft spirits industry, which is also being helped by the explosion in the popularity of premium gin. Recent IRI data put the value of Australian craft spirits at $17.1m in 2018, up from $10.8m in 2017 and that the category is growing at 110 per cent.

Within those craft categories innovation has become a crucial aspect with new SKUs and new ideas fuelling the popularity and engaging consumers in new and interesting ways.

And while the craft and innovation scenes have become an integral part of beer and spirits, the wine category while intrinsically ‘craft’ seems to have been left behind and is not thought of in the same ways.

One company looking to change that is Calabria Family Wines, and in particular with its new brand, Kings of Prohibition, which Sales Director Andrew Calabria says has been developed to showcase innovation and bring the craft movement to the wine industry.

“We have always seen the wine industry as leaders for innovation, this would be seen across quality and packaging. However with the movement and increase of craft spirits and craft beer it felt like that wine had become ‘stuck’.

“Personally I feel like a wine store can be so confronting and I wanted to really develop a product that had a true point of difference, a product that stood out from the pack, a product that told a story and created conversation among a group of friends sharing a glass of wine – just something different.”

He added: “I truly believe that telling the story of winemakers and terroir is important however it is easy to get lost when the rest of the world are telling the same stories.

“Kings of Prohibition is less complicated, the brand tells a story that is significant in the history of wine, while still delivering high quality wine produced from two great Australian winemaking regions; Barossa Valley Shiraz & Hilltops Tempranillo.”

In terms of the brand, Calabria said that the story of Prohibition is one that has eluded the new generation.

“I am a lover of history and I have always looked back and read the history of Prohibition and the flow on effect repeal had in 1933,” he said.

“It changed the wine industry and opened the door for innovation, essentially wine was reborn, and it created great wine brands which are still impacting the wine industry. Without Prohibition, winemakers would not have explored styles such as Fume Blanc or White Zinfandel.

“From the great era of the roaring twenties, Prohibition gave rise to the infamous ‘Kings of Prohibition’. During this dry period myths were born and the stories of bootleggers; such as Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel and Lucky Luciano became infamous and set the path for wine distribution around the world.”

Calabria has created two wines under the Kings of Prohibition label: the ripe, juicy and full forward Barossa Valley Shiraz and a Hilltops Tempranillo which is refined and opulent. He said that the wines are delicious drinking right now, but will cellar well over two years.

“Wine and food are always a perfect marriage and our Kings of Prohibition range has been developed to have at your next meal,” Calabria said.

“The Barossa Valley Shiraz has the structure to be paired with heavier meals, think smoked beef Brisket and crispy fries, while the Tempranillo is a little more elegant with soft tannins and showing more fruit, it would work well with lighter tapas style meals such as Jamón meat.”

As well as having excellent wines in the bottle, Calabria wanted to do something else to shake up the category and help create something different for the brand and that has come with the bottle.

“We wanted to stand out and develop a bespoke wine bottle, wine is a traditional product and we went against traditions, which has caused a bit of disruption,” he said.

“The propriety bottle took over three years to develop with lots of trips to Europe to finalise the product. It is unique and probably not everyone will like it/agree but again we are trying to engage new consumers.”

And, as Calabria explains, engagement is crucial for the wine industry.

“Wine is diverse from a super-premium Margaret River Chardonnay to a cask wine from the Riverland, all wine has a place and I think it is important that we are reaching out to all levels of wine drinkers or new wine drinkers.

“Everyone has a different wine profile and the human palate will always evolve, so it is important that we, as winemakers work homogenously because in the end we will all benefit.”

The Kings of Prohibition wines are available now for all retailers for $24.99RRP.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.