Small winemakers generated more than $1billion in revenue in 2015-16, largely due to a strong domestic market, a Wines Australia survey of 223 wineries has found.
Cellar doors have become increasingly key to the success of small wineries, representing more than a quarter of their income, as the sector experienced growth of seven per cent in the past year.
Monichino Wines chief winemaker Terry Monichino said their cellar door was key to their sales.
‘‘It’s critical. As soon as we start selling wine outside of the winery, we have to sell wine at wholesale price and take into account freight and numerous other costs,’’ Mr Monichino said.
‘‘I think the smartest wineries do what we do, they use the cellar door, they use the function room ... The cream is in the cellar door and function room.’’
Longleat Wines owner and winemaker Guido Vazzoler said the experience the cellar door offered was key to attracting customers.
‘‘A cellar door is extremely important for small wineries, it helps to build the local business,’’ Mr Vazzoler said.
‘‘If people enjoy the cellar door, they’re more likely to be loyal ... We try to create a wine experience at our cellar door.’’
While the survey shows, on average, small winemakers have seen a production growth of seven per cent and a revenue jump of 12 per cent, not all wineries have seen that jump.
‘‘We didn’t see any particular increase or anything like that,’’ Mr Vazzoler said.
‘‘The wine business is difficult because you’re at the whim of the weather ... and you’re competing with the big chains.’’
Mr Monichino said his business, and many others, had shrunk in recent years but there were promising signs in the industry.
‘‘There’s still a glut of wine in Australia,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s some good signs out there now ... the export side of things is picking up which is fantastic, and the government’s made some changes to tax regulations which aren’t ideal, but they’re certainly going to favour the small wineries.’’
While some small winemakers utilise a wholesaler or big companies to distribute their product, Mr Monichino said his customers liked the fact they were not in major chains.
‘‘Dealing with the likes of the bigger supermarket chains, the Dan Murphys, the First Choice Liquors, it’s tough for smaller wineries.
‘‘Other smaller bottle shops and restaurants like the fact we’re not in there ... that’s probably the advantage of being a smaller winery.’’