Last night at a lavish party put on by some of our wino friends, I happened to meet the proprietors of very small boutique winery in the Adelaide Hills called Romney Park.
The wines of Rod and Rachel Short were on hand to taste, but after speaking to them both, it brought back memories of my family and our small vineyard and winery (which has since been sold) and the hard yards and frequent soul searching that is inevitable on the journey to success.
Vignerons of smaller operations need to be a Jack of All Trades. The guys at Romney Park are on the right track I believe, with only a very small production and small portfolio of wines, and no plans to expand. Their goal is to continue to improve on quality, pedigree, and exposure, to create truly great wines that in turn, will inevitably drive the price a little higher. But even after fantastic reviews by wine journos and famous chefs such as Cheong Liew, it’s a hard slog to even get a tasting with a restaurant sommelier, let alone onto the wine list. Rod suspects that on average it takes him 5 visits to a restaurant, each time opening new samples for tasting. For big players this is part of the cost of getting wines to market, but for a small producer, it becomes a disproportionate cost.
I know from experience what a tough road it is to success with a wine brand, and how much tougher it is for the small producer. You may gather from recent posts that I’m on my soap box at the moment with regard to supporting small wine producers. There is so much press and exposure to larger companies, that many others get swept under the carpet, and unless they can compete on price, it’s exceptionally difficult to move forward. Consequently, many great wines and wineries, are never seen by the larger wine consuming public. Unfortunately there is no simple answer, except for the old Aussie adage, head down / bum up, and do the hard yards.