Australia,Books,Importer,Imports,Wine,Wine Writer

Do Americans expect to pay well below market value for great Australian wines, shunning the cost of the great ones?

The Australians flooded our market with Shiraz, when Syrah took its initial step onto the US stage as a variety worthy of attention. I believe, and tell me if I’m wrong, that their $7 bottles of wine set a precedent for all future Australian wines… At least it’s seemed to for many years that would be coming, as I’ve watched it.

However, I’m on one end of the business, so I decided to “Ask the Expert.”

Wine importer Deborah M. Gray has written the book on importing, literally: How To Import Wine. I’ve read it; and honestly, if anyone wants to understand how to import into the US, this book is a MUST READ.

So, I asked her:

Do you still have a wine import company? I’d love to give you a plug and an “Importer” link. Here’s my story about you:  Reefer, Did Someone Say Reefer? Yup, I couldn’t resist using the title…


I just returned to the office to find this lovely surprise! Love the title! Ha.

As for my import company, I really need to update my website (the Bluestone Wine Solutions one) to amend the importing part because I gave up that end in December, at least for the foreseeable future. The Australian brands I imported were some of the loveliest wines I’ve ever had with incredible ratings…that couldn’t sell in this economy, with the ratings system broken and with the current disinterest in Australian premium wines. I represent a couple of other portfolios (not my own), and also consult to wineries and new importers. I’m working (or trying to) on a second book as well.


I wonder if the Australians flooded our market so much with cheap brands that now they can’t sell upper tier, because everyone expects Australia to over deliver on cheap pricing? Hum…


IMHO it’s a perfect storm of events that conspired to bring down Aussie wine popularity in the U.S. the last couple of years

Cheap wines – of course!

Consolidation of wholesalers – less available space in portfolios

Proliferation of brands

Exchange rate – weak US dollar

Writer backlash – seeing Aussie wines as over-priced and monolithic

Ratings wane – as dominant purchase factor

Economy in general – making premium wines less affordable

Economy in particular – wine importers going bankrupt and dumping high end brands on market, devaluing them.

And now that more Millennials are of legal drinking age, they are expecting ‘over-delivering’ wines, because that’s what they have been accustomed to during the recession, and all they really know.

Yes, I have thought about it a time or two!

How about you?

What do you think has added to an importer that’s had gorgeous wines to offer, but having to bow out of the process?

Did the Aussies shoot themselves in the foot?

Can they recover?

So many questions are left unanswered, and only time will tell for the answers.





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9 Responses to “Do Americans expect to pay well below market value for great Australian wines, shunning the cost of the great ones?”

  1. alex says:

    Hello this is Alex from the wine forum http://www.winebasic101.com. Australian wine prices have been dropping and will continue to drop. Some winiers have gone out of business due to the drop in prices.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Yes, they have Alex. It’s a shame, too.

  3. David says:

    I think Malbec from Argentina has garnered the excitement that Aussie wines once did. Ironically they are on the same path of selling cheap and growing fast. Will they pull up before they crash? They should look at the Aussie story and learn something.

  4. Jo Diaz says:

    David, exactly. I haven’t seen this issue being discussed anywhere yet. It may have, but I’ve not come across it. The dialogue needs to start, and they Argentinians need to pay immediate attention.

  5. Deborah Gray says:

    David, I think even the Australians are learning something from the Australian story these days, and when they return in numbers it will be a much different business model, and a wiser, more considered approach. Hopefully we won’t have too long to wait, because there are some world class wines being made in Australia that just aren’t getting the attention they deserve.

  6. Hi Deborah and Jo,
    I was looking on line for an updated list of the best US wine importers can couldn’t find anything except a good article from Slate Magazine 2009. I consult for a company that allows foreign wineries to sell DTC and am reaching out to importers that store stock in the greater Bay Area. This company champions the small importers with warehouses full of beautiful but under appreciate wines. If you have any leads for me, especially for Australian wines I’d be grateful. If you’re curious about the company I consult for go to http://www.wholeworldwines.com, and take a peek at the consumer-oriented site at http://www.importedwines.com. This isn’t a flash site, or even pay to play, just legitimate sales done under the winery banner. As for your comments about the market above, I agree 100%. I have recently finished a contract with a wonderful Argentine winery that left the US market after several years of involvement due to a change in their business model, but I also think they were worn down the large amount of money needed to promote their wines through the traditional three-tier system. Thank you for your insightful comments.

  7. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks for commenting, Jennifer. Deborah is more equipped than I in this matter.

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