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Gallo embraces premium Oz with Wirra Wirra partnership

Published:  17 August, 2023

Wirra Wirra has signed a distribution agreement with California giant E. & J. Gallo to boost the Mclaren Vale winery’s presence in the US.

Gallo, which lays claim to being the largest family-owned winery in the world, has a global portfolio of over 100 wines and spirits, accounting for one in five bottles purchased in the US.

On joining the portfolio, Wirra Wirra CEO Matthew Deller MW described the move as “a huge opportunity” for the well-known Australian estate.

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“E. & J. Gallo Winery holds an unparalleled market share in the United States, and we couldn’t be happier to embark on our next chapter with them,” he said.

“It has been a challenging couple of years for the Australian wine industry, but this is an incredible opportunity to make a significant impact in the world’s largest and most attractive wine market. This is the perfect opportunity with the right partner at the right time.”

The high profile move by Gallo into Australia has, however, implications for the wider Australian wine category too.

Australia’s export troubles have been well documented following the loss of much of its market in China, with the US also floundering more recently, contributing to a 10% overall decline in export value to AU$1.87bn to June 2023 (Wine Australia figures), but just 1% in volume.

In its most recent Export Summary, Wine Australia attributed a significant chunk of that decline to the US market – it’s number one export destination by value – where there has been a “structural decline in lower price segments, which is where Australian wine is predominantly sold in the market”, according to the report.

Set against this backdrop, Wine Australia’s Regional GM Americas, Aaron Ridgeway, described the move by Gallo into the Australian category as “a turning point for Australian wine in the US”, being both “visionary and well-timed”.

Ridgeway added: “[Gallo’s] ability to create and define entire categories over many decades sends an extremely positive message about the viability of Australian wine in higher price segments.”

Steve Carlotti, senior vice president and GM at Gallo, said he believed Wirra Wirra (pictured) will have “huge appeal” to the American market, describing the label as one of the most respected in Australia.

“Wirra Wirra consistently delivers elegant, classic wines at incredible value. We look forward to bringing this exciting new choice to American consumers,” he said.

Wirra Wirra’s best-known labels include the Holy Thirst Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz, RSW Shiraz, Church Block Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz-Merlot, plus the RGT Collection, which honours the late Richard Gregory Trott who first drove wide recognition of the estate as a quality producer back in the 1970s.