Tasmania…Bigger Than You Think…Part 2

So the last week has seen further debate since my post regarding my thoughts on Tasmania’s position as a single GI under the Wine Australia labelling. There’s been debate on both sides for and against and mostly being played out on Twitter.

I was contacted with formal responses by 2 wonderfully intelligent and passionate wine people, Paul Smart and Kate Giles.  Paul is a resident of Tasmania, vingeron, wine maker and a passionate supporter of the industry. Kate is a resident of South Australia, wine maker, wine marketer and a passionate supporter of the industry.  In the interest of a balanced argument, Kate has responded to Paul’s points, so I present them as received. Read, enjoy and think….

Why Tasmania Does Not Need More GI’s -(Paul Smart)

I have been making wine now for 15 years in various places around Australia, with the last 7 years based here in Hobart, Tasmania, and with no wish of ever moving away.  Tasmania is a great place to live and a great place to make wine.  I will be here for a long time and as such I take a great interest in the future of the industry, not only for my winemaking wife and I, but also for our son.

I am writing this post in response to several views that been expressed about Tasmania needing to be split up from its current one GI (it actually is not a GI, but a State, technical difference) to multiple GI’s.  This could involve 4 GI’s based on the Wine Tasmania Touring Guide: North West, South, East and Tamar Valley, or even more to include other areas (eg. Derwent Valley, Upper Derwent Valley, Coal River, Huon, etc.). So why do we not need to carve up the State?

The first point is that the State is small, not in grand size, but in terms of wine production and area planted.  We currently sit 15th place of a crowded marketplace of 43 GI’s.

  Region 2010 ha   Region 2010 ha   Region 2010 ha

1

Riverina

20,154

16

Heathcote

1,245

31

Granite Belt

331

2

Riverland

20,009

17

Geographe

1,181

32

Swan Hill (NSW)

308

3

Barossa Valley

9,763

18

Adelaide Plains

880

33

Tumbarumba

254

4

Murray Darling – VIC

8,339

19

Pyrenees

874

34

Gippsland

235

5

Murray Darling – NSW

6,533

20

Rutherglen

853

35

Macedon Ranges

224

6

McLaren Vale

6,490

21

Swan District

784

36

Southern Highlands

202

7

Langhorne Creek

5,957

22

Bendigo

771

37

Henty

183

8

Margaret River

4,894

23

Mornington Peninsula

752

38

Sunbury

129

9

Clare Valley

4,801

24

Perricoota

671

39

Peel

96

10

Swan Hill (VIC)

3,869

25

Geelong

515

40

The Peninsulas

93

11

Adelaide Hills

3,861

26

Grampians

506

41

Kangaroo Island

89

12

Hunter

3,450

27

Hilltops

484

42

Beechworth

57

13

Great Southern

2,804

28

Southern Fleurieu

414

43

Shoalhaven Coast

40

14

Yarra Valley

2,440

29

Gundagai

408

     

15

Tasmania

1,251

30

Strathbogie Ranges

369

     

Should we carve up into 4 GI’s, then we would be around the size of the Granite Belt, Swan Hill or Tumbarumba, regions that don’t have as much brand presence as others larger than Tasmania.  Carve it up even more and we become even less significant. 

Second point is that we are the only GI in Australia that is actually a State.  This means we have one entire State Government promoting and supporting one entire GI.  Should we split up, then each GI would compete with each of the other GI’s for the same source of funding and support. 

Third point is that to split us up, we would need to create multiple organisations to run them, each trying to promote Brand “insert GI name”, instead of how we are all currently focused, Brand Tasmania.  This splitting of resources would create inefficiencies and wastage, and would dilute the excellent job that Wine Tasmania is doing.

Fourth point is the marketing angle.  The argument that “if we can create separate areas, we can market better” is invalid.  A lot of producers are using local identifiers already, or Sub GI’s, such as Pressing Matters stating on their front label Coal River, Tasmania.  This works for high involvement consumers who want a more technical story.  But the majority of consumer don’t have a high involvement, and only remember large wine regions (ie. Barossa, Margaret River).  Dr Armando Corsi of the University of South Australia Marketing School has research that shows that “brand loyalty comes with greater share of the market”.  That can extend to Brand Tasmania loyalty, carve our share into multiple pieces and carve up the loyalty.

Fifth point is that Tasmania is a very hard place to grow grapes with multiple challenges. Some years some areas can get wiped out.  But by drawing lines through the State you are limiting individual companies from buying fruit from elsewhere in dire times. 

Sixth point, how do you draw the lines?  Can you just draw willy nilly on a map?  What about delineating by style?  There is no distinct, consistent style similarity within areas, nor a style difference between areas.  This carve up process would divide people and create ill will within a small industry. 

So in summary I don’t think we need to be talking about this until we grow four fold.  I think we should keep pushing the wheelbarrow of Brand Tasmania, as collaboration is much better than division.  The current system of using local identifiers works for high involvement consumers, and maybe we could formalise some Sub-GI’s in the future (cost?).  Tasmania has a bright future, and I can’t wait for the ride!

And now for the other side…

The GI Issue – Tasmania, (Kate Giles)

Just in response to Paul’s words, I think I have a different approach to the applications of GIs to Tasmania.

I see GIs as a tool, and a way to clearly define the regionality within a larger area. We all know that there are different areas which produce different styles of wines, and this regionality – or sub-regionality – can only add to the experience of the wine buyer, not detract.

Tasmanian wine will always be Tasmanian wine. Regions, or sub-regions can be added to labels only if the producer chooses to do so. They are not obliged to do so. Frankly, if we wanted to, we could clear up any perceived confusion by just popping Wine of Australia on all of our labels…

So, to address the points made by Paul with my non-Tas, wine marketing perspective:

  1. Tas is too small. Small? Sure. Too small? Nope. Just because it is small, does not preclude the fact that there are very different areas producing different styles of wines.
  2. The state money factor. Still the same number of producers aiming for the same pieces of the same pie. Dividing up by GIs does not change this.
  3. Administration required. Well, if you say so. As you say, you are small. There is no reason the same administration currently looking after Tas wine can’t do so when divided by regions. Maybe elect a volunteer each year from each sub-region to represent said region, but not much more needs to be done, until the regions grow, and with it awareness. Regions can then choose to have their own tourism or promotional body as required.
  4. The marketing angle. Well, this is all well and good. Except for the fact that this is Tasmania. The wines produced are – generally – at the higher end, where the consumer is discerning, and involved. They look for sub-regions at these price points. They want to know more and understand more. Regionality also promotes tourism, and a coherent sense of identity. Tasmania as a whole is not aiming at the base end of consumerism where said consumer does not care about sub-regions, and might be confused. Your consumers? They want to know. So tell them. And adding sub-regions in no way detracts from Brand Tasmania. If anything, it strengthens it. The idea that the Barossa has Greenock, Eden, Gomersal etc adds to the allure. The diversity of a region such as Tasmania is a great thing. Celebrate it.
  5. What happens if a region wipes out? Of course you can bring grapes in from other areas. No reason at all as to why you can’t. Just remove the regionality from the label. If a sub-region is knocked out for whatever reason, odds are your consumers will know. So by using other grapes, you are assuring them that the wine is not from the affected region and being proud about what you have accomplished in a difficult year. (I am well versed in this. 2011, anyone?)
  6. Line-drawing. Ah. Now there you have me. Maps aren’t really my thing. But generally, GIs are defined by style and territory, and occasionally by altitude (hi Orange!). You are an incredibly smart state of wine folks. I’m sure you can work it out.

Maybe this would be easier if you were a larger producing area, but let’s face it. You are Tasmania. It is never going to get that much larger.

GIs provide a way to convey identity, and project your specialties. That cannot be a bad thing. I grew up learning about sub-regions of pretty much everywhere. It saddens me a little that they winemakers of Tasmania, whose wine styles I adore, and who I utterly respect, are restricted to this state denomination, which to my mind fails to adequately convey the variety provided by the state.

But it is true. I do approach this from a marketing perspective. But also from the perspective of someone who has spent years actively working out in the trade, and with consumers. Regionality does no harm. In fact, I think it does only good. But I see it as a tool to showcase the brilliance of my wines. For me? It works. For Tasmania? Who am I to say?

Just keep making the wines I love to drink. That will keep me happy…!

I look forward to catching up for a drink with you all when I get there.

Kate Giles
kate@claritasmarketing.com.au

Whatever your thoughts may be on Tasmania’s need to have further  delineation of GIs, Regions or Sub-Regions….no one can argue that the vineous future is bright and exciting. Feel free to cast your vote on your thoughts here:

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