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Generics respond to the pandemic: Wine Australia

Published:  21 April, 2020

In the third of our series on responses of the generic bodies to the Covid-19 pandemic, Andrew Catchpole talks to Laura Jewell MW, regional general manager, Wine Australia UK & Europe

What does work look like during lockdown?

The Wine Australia UK/Europe team is working from home, as are the other Wine Australia offices around the world. Whilst our events and visits are on hold, we are continuing to provide the essential services of export approvals and regulation, market insights, and research and development management.

Keeping in touch has been our main priority; understanding what is going on in this market and across Europe, understanding the implications for trade in the different markets. Not just at the retail end, but also behind the scenes at the bottlers, with dry goods availability, and logistics.

We have also been working on gathering information around the recovery of vineyards after the bushfires, particularly in the Adelaide Hills, where there are some great stories from those who were most affected.

Vintage is starting to wrap up in many regions, with Margaret River already reporting an outstanding vintage

We are collating vintage reports from the regions and hope to publish our 2020 vintage report in July. We feedback via our monthly newsletters as well as working with the Australian High Commission and some of the Australian State offices with their communications. Also, we launched a digital and social media campaign in March to engage and connect with consumers online and amplify the Australian wine message - this will run for the next few months.

In terms of planned events, initiatives and campaigns, what have you shifted and to when?

We have had to postpone a number of seminars and tastings in various countries as well as dealing with the fallout from ProWein 2020. There’s stock in a warehouse in Germany that we can’t access right now, but will be able to sort as soon as the travel restrictions are lifted.

We are wary of just moving everything to September and October as we know that many tastings will be rescheduled for then. We are working on our Nordic Roadshow in early October as previously planned, and will fit other events when we can.

In the meantime we have completed the review and update of the Australian Wine Discovered programme materials, which are all now online and available to download for free. It has been a big piece of work by our education team, and essential to keep the resource fresh and relevant. We have also added thousands of new images to our digital asset gallery, from the photography sessions done prior to the lockdown, including regions such as Orange, Riverland and the Granite Belt.

What other initiatives or new strategies might we see as we emerge post lockdown?

As with many others, we are planning to use webinars and live streaming to offer tastings and seminars online, and to connect trade with winemakers in Australia. Based around our education programme, or in conjunction with some of the key regions, we are finalising the programme and ironing out the technical bits. More details will be coming soon to

Do you foresee any changes with regard to how the producers you represent might approach this market post the pandemic?

We have invested in a series of workshops and seminars over the last two years in Australia to assist wineries and producers to be export ready, have a clear strategy and plan of action before approaching any export market. More Australian wine is shipped to the UK than to any other market and Australia is number one in the UK off-trade with 23% market share. I believe the UK will continue to be a very important market for Australian wine and has the potential to be more attractive post Brexit, but that will depend on negotiations, and how long the economic impact of the pandemic lasts.

Any other comments?

As resources are stretched as we come out of this pandemic and into likely recession, I think we will all work differently to integrate digital and social media strategies much more into our overall marketing campaigns. We have to adapt.