Organic wine sales are booming as Australians turn their focus to wellness, with local winemakers experiencing double digit growth in the past 12 months.
The Australian organic industry contributes more than $2 billion to the Australian economy and is experiencing 14.6% growth year on year. The organic wine industry has seen a similar trajectory of growth, a clear indication the wine-drinking community has embraced organic varietals.
Australia’s top organic producer, Angove Family Winemakers, has experienced a 30% surge in organic wine sales in the last year and recently released a new Naturalis range targetting independent liquor retailers and on-premise trade.
Drinks Digest spoke to Tim Boydell, Angove Family Winemakers Director of Sales and Marketing, and Niki Ford, Chief Executive Officer of Australian Organic, about the organic wine boom and its future in Australia.
“We know from previous consumer research about two-thirds of organic consumers turn to organics at a time when they are facing health concerns,” Ford said. “It makes sense that the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired people to take a more futured-focused view of their ongoing wellbeing.“
Boydell agrees: “Over the past 12 months we’ve seen a big shift in consumer behaviour, with people increasingly valuing health and sustainability, and actively seeking out brands they can trust. In the past, access to sustainable and organic products was often viewed as a privilege, so everyone at Angove is extremely proud to make organic wine far more accessible and affordable.
“We have seen a fantastic response to our organic and new Naturalis wines so I think people are definitely focusing more on their own health and wellbeing as well as that of the planet. Not a day goes by without their being a mention of organic, global warming, climate change in media and press and consumers are responding by adjusting their purchase behaviours.
“Naturalis was launched in Australia in September 2020 for independent retail and on premise just as we were coming out of major restrictions – the timing could not have been better as the consumers and outlets looked for something new and fresh that also resonated with their ideals around doing better for themselves and for the planet. We are currently tracking slightly ahead of budget.”
Boydell said: “Over the past twelve months we’ve seen a big shift in consumer behaviour, with people increasingly valuing health and sustainability, and actively seeking out brands they can trust. In the past, access to sustainable and organic products was often viewed as a privilege, so everyone at Angove is extremely proud to make organic wine far more accessible and affordable.”
A sparkling wine was also recently introduced to the Naturalis line-up to meet local demand.
“There are only a small number of sparkling wines in the market here so we saw a gap that needed to be filled,” Boydell explained. “Our Naturalis Sparkling is Chardonnay based, one of the traditional varieties used in champagne, and has lovely fresh white peach and melon characteristics. As a business we have also just started importing the first certified organic Champagne, Duval-Leroy, into Australia, further adding to our sparkling organic offer, which we know is in demand.”
Exporting organic wine to the US
Boydell revealed that Angove is in the very early stages of launching Naturalis in the United States.
“All of the signs we are seeing are extremely encouraging and other markets where the range has been presented are starting to place first orders,” he said.
As for the wines that are performing most strongly, the Cabernet Sauvignon has been the stand-out in the US, as it is the number one selling red varietal. In Australia it has been a more even spread with the Rose, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon blanc, all within a few cases of each other – mainly due to the wine being launched in Spring and Summer here.
Boydell said the future is looking bright for Australian organic exports to the US.
“Cabernet is King in the US and it has been the real driver at this stage, especially given we launched during their winter,” he explained. “Sales of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are now starting to pick up as they emerge from winter hiatus and covid lockdowns. Sales are ahead of budget and revised forecasts have been received which is fantastic news. Both our partners Trinchero and our sales team in the US are very bullish and excited about what the potential for our organic offering in the US will yield and we have big plans for the roll out in this important and very large wine market.”
As for the future of the industry in Australia, Ford (above) said Australia is regarded as being a world leader in organic wine production, with very strong demand for our products in key markets in Europe, Asia and North America. Our “clean and green” image, reputation for quality and food safety, and advanced production practices carry considerable weight with consumers across the globe.
“While the pandemic may have piqued the interest of wine buyers to select organic labels, we foresee this trend leading to sustained demand. Organic production is synonymous with rich flavours and impeccable quality, and we predict this will maintain a growing consumer base,” she said.
Demand for Australian organic wine has never been higher, but Ford said there is still work to be done on home soil when it comes to regulation.
“As the peak industry body for the organic sector, we are working hard to instate mandatory regulation for the use of the word organic,” she explained. “I am part of the Organics Industry Advisory Group examining this issue, which was convened by Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud in December last year.
“Under the current regulatory framework it is possible for products to be labelled as organic when they are not certified. This is an enormous concern as it opens the door to organisations making misleading claims. Australia is ideally positioned to meet burgeoning demand for organic product from both local and international markets but is being let down by the lack of mandatory certification for food and products carrying an organic label.”
Naturalis wins Gold
Australian organic wines are scooping a swag of international accolades. The Autumn 2020 edition of the International Organic Wine Awards awarded two Top Gold medals to Angove for its Warboys Vineyard McLaren Vale Shiraz 2018 and Wild Olive Organic McLaren Vale Shiraz 2019.
And the 2019 Naturalis Cabernet Sauvignon was awarded Gold at the Australian Organic Wine Awards 2020 this week.
The peak body awards celebrate the finest drops from the country’s best certified organic and biodynamic winemakers, showcasing the varietals of high-quality organic wine across the industry.
Victoria and Richard Angove, Joint Managing Directors Angove Family Winemakers said: “We’re proud to be part of the Certified Organic industry in Australia. Our team has worked tremendously hard over the past 15 years to transition our vineyards to be 100% certified organic and produce the beautifully balanced, Angove Organic wines available on shelves.
“We’re thrilled to be recognised and win at this year’s Australian Organic Wine Awards. Importantly, we are honoured to be recognised alongside our industry colleagues who are all committed to the advancement of best in class organic viticulture.”
All wines in the Naturalis range carry an RRP of $18 and are available exclusively at independent liquor outlets and on-premise trade venues. In addition to their certified organic provenance, the wines are also vegan and gluten free.