Buller takes an­other step for­ward

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAR­RYD BARCA

Gen­eral Man­ager of 96-year-old win­ery Buller Wines, Paul Squires has taken in­no­va­tion to the next level.

The pop­u­lar win­ery has had a sub­stan­tial up­grade since its change of own­ers in 2013, par­tic­u­larly through a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in its in­fra­struc­ture.

“The up­grades in­clude a whole new win­ery ca­pa­ble of do­ing 3,000 bot­tles of wine per hour, we’ve also put in a new crush­ing plant, new ware­house and lo­gis­tics area, we’ve done up the cel­lar door and have a new res­tau­rant as well. The in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture has been for both wine and tourism,” Mr Squires told The Free Press.

Al­ready ex­port­ing to the US, Den­mark, New Zealand and a small part of the UK, Buller wines re­ceived a $10,000 grant to go to­wards its new China Ex­port De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme.

“We had been ex­port­ing to the US but recog­nised China as a ma­jor mar­ket with the growth tak­ing place there in Aus­tralian wine due to the changes in tax­a­tion,” Mr Squires said.

“We de­vel­oped a part­ner­ship and started that just over 12 months ago. We’re us­ing the grant for mar­ket­ing and for at­tend­ing China on a min­i­mum of three oc­ca­sions, but we’ll be over there four times.”

Mr Squires has just re­cently vis­ited China to help launch a store over there, vis­it­ing three dif­fer­ent cities. He said there a lot of dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels in China which en­abled him to bet­ter un­der­stand them, meet­ing with peo­ple ei­ther al­ready sell­ing Buller wine or in the process of.

There are dif­fer­ent rules as­so­ci­ated with the sale of wine that dif­fers China from the US.

“We do our US ex­port through dis­tributer South­ern Starz and they’ve been ex­cep­tion­ally good in get­ting us into places like Dis­ney­land where our for­ti­fied wines are sell­ing par­tic­u­larly well, es­pe­cially in their bars there,” Mr Squires said.

“In China the dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels are sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent, they use wine in restau­rants in sim­i­lar ways that they do in Aus­tralia and other places in the world, how­ever they also use it for gifts and for cor­po­rate events.”

Squires ex­plained the im­por­tance of get­ting in­volved in the Chi­nese mar­ket.

“At the mo­ment it’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing be­cause we ini­tially thought that the China mar­ket would be more fo­cused on our more en­try level wines, how­ever the growth for us has re­ally been in the pre­mium wine area, so our top-end wines are sell­ing ex­cep­tion­ally well there,” he said.

Mr Squires said while they’ve con­sid­er­ably en­hanced the Ruther­glen site over four or five years, they wish to max­imise their Swan Hill site. “Be­tween the two we’ve got con­tin­ued ca­pac­ity for growth,” he said.

“We’re go­ing to con­tinue to look to open up our ex­port mar­kets. We’ll also be look­ing at bring­ing a wide range of new la­bels to the do­mes­tic mar­ket.”

More than $1.18 mil­lion was de­liv­ered for 65 projects with the aim of in­creas­ing lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, boost wine tourism and over­all grow wine busi­nesses.

Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Jaala Pul­ford an­nounced the fund­ing from the sec­ond round of the Wine Growth Fund, which sup­ports Vic­to­ria’s 21 unique wine re­gions.

“We’re rais­ing a glass to Vic­to­rian pro­duc­ers and wine busi­nesses across our state and pro­vid­ing vi­tal grants to take Vic­to­rian wine to the world,” Ms Pul­ford said.

“The fund aims to grow the in­dus­try by pro­vid­ing in­no­va­tive grow­ers, or­gan­i­sa­tions and projects with fund­ing to ex­pand – sup­port­ing ac­tiv­i­ties from the vine­yard to the cel­lar door and beyond.”

Mr Squires said he was thank­ful that the Wine Growth Fund was able to oc­cur.

“It’s all been made pos­si­ble due to the cor­po­ra­tion be­tween our­selves, Wine Aus­tralia and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Vic­to­ria, it’s a real pos­i­tive for us to be work­ing with them and we’re very thank­ful,” he said.

Buller Wines is also hop­ing for peo­ple to flock through the doors dur­ing the Great Vic­to­rian Bike Ride, which trav­els through the Ruther­glen re­gion this year. Buller will have live mu­sic through the pic­nic area and are look­ing for­ward to ex­pos­ing their prod­uct to the 4,000 peo­ple who are es­ti­mated to be rid­ing in this year’s event.

“We’ve worked closely with Wine­mak­ers of Ruther­glen and buses will be trans­port­ing to 19 dif­fer­ent winer­ies that are con­tribut­ing,” Mr Squires said.

“We’re hop­ing those peo­ple can come along both to other winer­ies and Buller’s as well.”

Buller wines em­ploy­ees bot­tling, where they can do 3,000 per hour. The grow­ing, crush­ing, ma­tur­ing, bot­tling and la­belling all gets done on site.

Paul Squires pic­tured in front of 40-50 year-old Mus­cat her­itage bar­rels rang­ing be­tween 2,000 and 6,000 litres.

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