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McGuigan Wines eyes Tumbarumba expansion as part of its cool climate “plan”

Published:  08 November, 2019

McGuigan Wines has revealed a blueprint to focus on its cool climate messaging in order to continue to transform Australia’s reputation at the premium end from “in your face wines” to wines of “flavour, intensity, structure and length”.

The Aussie winemaker is known for making best in class Chardonnays from the Adelaide Hills and more recently, The Philosophy – a £100 Cab/Shiraz blend made from the best parcels in the Clare Valley and Langhorne Creek.

Now however, it is looking to push this cool climate agenda even further, with plans to extend grape supply contracts in Tumbarumba and the surrounding areas in and around New South Wales such as Gundagai.

The company did consider plantings in Tasmania, but has since decided to concentrate on New South Wales. 

In London yesterday for his last visit before stepping down as chief executive of Australian Vintage, Neil McGuigan explained this plan has been on-going for some time, starting with The Philosophy launch back in 2010.

There was also a AUD$10m investment in their state of the art ‘premium’ winery an hour north of Melbourne, which includes open top fermenters and small batch capabilities.

The first releases from this new facility will be for the 2019 vintage.

“It’s part of a super premium plan to continue to take consumers on a wine journey,” McGuigan told Harpers. “The cool climate message isn’t for everyone – it’s for those who want to go to the next level and beyond.

“The Philosophy is our BMW 7 Series. Black Label is our 1 Series. It’s what I call our ‘five o’clock wine’. Great-tasting, easy drinking. The Philosophy is for dinner: more complexity and length.”

Bold and clear messaging has also informed the creation of McGuigan’s most recent launch of five new completely non-alcoholic wines.

Julian Dyer, chief operating officer for the UK and Europe at parent company Australian Vintage Ltd, explained the need for a completely zero alcohol wine, as even 0.5% abv was confusing for consumers.

“We know there are fruit juices in the supermarket with 0.5% abv. But it sends a mixed message to consumers who are still thinking ‘how much of this can I have before I can drive?’” he said.

McGuigan added that the wine labelling was intended to be “completely unapologetic” about being a non-alcoholic wine.

The team has high hopes for the Chardonnay in particular.

“When we started, we knew we had to have a Sauvignon Blanc, but the Chardonnay is the star. We have really been able to balance the fragrant fruit characteristics with the oak and gas which gives the wine weight and texture,” said Dyer.

“If a zero-alcohol wine is going to take off, this is going to be it,” McGuigan added.

Neil McGuigan is due to step down as CEO of Australian Vintage after the company’s AGM on November 20.

However, he will be staying on as a technical adviser while also moving into a client-facing role, interacting with markets worldwide.

McGuigan is currently one of Australia’s biggest volume producers domestically and on the export market.

Its volumes are just over 8.4 million six-pack cases, accounting for 90% of Australian Vintage's core branded volume, which includes Tempus Two, Nepenthe and Barossa Valley Wine Co.