The recent announcement by Constellation Wines (aka BRL Hardy for Aussie folk) that it is cutting it’s operations in Australia by shutting down 3 of it’s 10 production facilities hasn’t really come as a suprise for many industry watchers. The drought, high Aussie dollar and inflation have all contributed to the company’s decision to downsize.
These reasons are easy to explain and even easier to justify. But as local Adelaide Wine critic Phillip White suggested on radio today, the reasons are more problematic. He believes it all comes down to greed and the want of large public companies to get in and get out, and hopefully make a quick buck on the way. Unfortunately, as Phillip White pointed out, the wine industry doesn’t work that way. It can take up to 10 years for an idea to mature, and even then it’s subjective.
Conversely, later in the day, I heard an interview with a small Adelaide Hills producer, Setanta, on the same radio station. You couldn’t get a more contrary picture of the industry. Setanta recently won best red wine at the Sydney International Wine competition. They produce around 4000 cases only and the entire operation is as grass roots and as hand on as you can get. They are making some seriously good wines, and passion and vision are parmount to their success.
If only some of the big guys could tap into some of what Setanta has to offer. Who knows what greatness could be achieved with the heady combination of cash, passion and vision. It’s a rare combination, and unfortunately the world and society we live in rarely allows it to happen. Then again, who really would want that. It would be pretty predictable and boring if that were the case.