POPULAR for its delicious drops, Merilba Estate Wines is now being recognised in the industry for an entirely different reason.
In the wine business, distribution is usually handled by large companies with hundreds of clubs, cafes, bars and restaurants at their fingertips – but at Merilba Estate Wines director and wine-maker Shaun Cassidy has kept his hands on the reigns.
“It is unusual because when you get to a winery our size, we make the wine here ourselves, you look for a distributor to represent you within the market,” Mr Cassidy said.
“We’ve consciously decided not to do that because we’re very particular about who we sell our wine to, we have a particular person in mind in dealing with pubs and restaurants and our model is based on working with small businesses – because we are as well.”
Some of the Merilba Estate Wines’ clients have been with them since they started more than 15 years ago.
Within those clients many premises have changed hands with management but stayed on board with the winery.
The benefit to keeping the process in their own hands is that it’s far cheaper, as a distributor would take a cut of the profits.
“We like to keep the control ourselves, it’s more of an organic growth but it’s a bit more secure,” Mr Cassidy said.
Merilba Estate Wines can be seen anywhere from Tweed Heads through to Wollongong and to Narrabri in NSW.
“What we’ve actually done is that we’ve consciously looked at the areas where we can service, for instance Sydney where we do have some very good clients, is a difficult market to service because everyone who has a bottle of wine wants to sell it in Sydney,” Mr Cassidy said.
“We’ve taken the opposite view, none of them come to regional NSW in particular, so we go and service the family business and it’s paying the benefits.”
For the moment the business plan is focused on growth within the Australian wine market, making a product that’s premium and value for money.
“We’re really concentrating on not growing too quickly and really cementing our relationships with people we deal with currently,” Mr Cassidy said.
“There’s great interest in the New England product, especially in Tamworth, Armidale, Inverell and Glen Innes – they’re very supportive of local wine and products.
“Further afield there’s real interest in the New England because it has a premium brand, the words have positive connotations for people because it’s green, productive country.”