• Laura Jewell: Artisans of Australian Wine is set to hit the UK by storm

    Laura Jewell MW admits putting on a wine tasting in a vast nightclub in Shoreditch might be a touch out of her comfort zone, but it also promises to be a whole lot of fun when artisan winemakers from across Australia make the trip to London in September to show the UK wine trade what is really going on in the alternative and independent Australian wine scene.

    Laura Jewell MW admits putting on a wine tasting in a vast nightclub in Shoreditch might be a touch out of her comfort zone, but it also promises to be a whole lot of fun when artisan winemakers from across Australia make the trip to London in September to show the UK wine trade what is really going on in the alternative and independent Australian wine scene.

    mm By August 19, 2016

    Laura Jewell MW, head of Wine Australia for the UK, is only too aware of the need to spice up trade and generic wine tastings. But believes she has the answer with the new Artisans of Australia Wine tasting.

     

    laura jewell

    You only have to take a quick look at any restaurant wine list to appreciate the level of competition there is to get a wine taken on. For a start the average wine list is getting smaller, just as the amount of wine and the choice available to wine drinkers is going up.

    So consider the position of the head of a generic wine body for a particular country whose job it is to promote that nation’s wines in that specific country – like the UK.

    It is your task to not just convince the media or the industry’s major influencers that your wines are worth talking about, but you ultimately have to get the key buyers, the sommeliers, the wise men and women who decide which wines go on the lists we get to choose from.

    That’s one of the things that no doubt keeps Laura Jewell MW up at night in her role as not only UK head of Wine Australia but the rest of Europe and the Middle East to boot.

    Particularly when you hear time and again from those exact key buyers and head sommeliers that they don’t have the time, or sometimes the interest, in the major annual tastings that generic bodies have traditionally used, and are expected to hold, to showcase and promote their wines to the trade.

    It is an issue Jewell knows only too well in her recent roles deciding and determining which wines, and which countries, went on to the not so insignificant lists of Tesco and Spar. She was faced with the very same problems of time, focus, and ability to do her job well when going to tastings that are so big that it is simply impossible to get around them in the time available.

     

    Something completely different

    So it is very interesting to see that next month Wine Australia are quietly and discreetly helping to organise an event that is not only very different for a generic body, but for Australia full stop.
    Well at least in this country.

    The Artisans of Australian Wine  tasting which takes place on September 20 promises to be like no other wine tasting taking place in the UK this year.

    Excuse me have you seen the spittoon?
    Excuse me have you seen the spittoon? The Cargo night club in Shoreditch

    For it is being hosted in the Cargo nightclub in the middle of hipster central in Shoreditch, east London. Admittedly during the day, not the night. That might have been a step too far.

    Jewell explains: “But it is going to be different and a great way to show the new wave of wine coming out of Australia. But most of all it is going to be fun.”

    But noticeably this is not a fully branded Wine Australia event, but rather it is the facilitator and event organiser. The stars of the show are the 23 young, enterprising, and hopefully innovative and different Australian winemakers, representing 40 wineries, that are going to make the journey to come and really bring it to life.

    “We have winemakers coming over who normally would not think of coming to the UK,” says Jewell.

    Rootstock 

    The origins of the tasting go back to a chance meeting that Jewell had with UK wine importers, Les Cave de Pyrene and Indigo Wine at Sydney’s own event for artisan and natural winemakers, known as Rootstock last November.

    Rootstock in Sydney: where the idea for the London artisan tasting was born
    Rootstock in Sydney: where the idea for the London artisan tasting was born

    It was very much with their help that an idea dreamt up in Sydney then became a reality when back in the UK, stresses Jewell.

    She says they have been invaluable in working with their customers to promote the event, and she has also brought in other key like-minded importers in the UK to take part and promote the tasting and let their customers and networking base know that is happening and what to expect.

    Much of the “noise” about the tasting is going to be generated by word of mouth and social media, with even a dedicated Instagram account, @artisansofaustralianwine, set up to get the message out.

     

    Artisan appeal

    The UK tasting is not going to be just about natural wine, but rather promoting wines made with artisanal and independent values.

    It is also not going to be about white tablecloths and the traditional way of attending a tasting. Jewell is aware it is an event that might split opinion, but asks the trade and visitors to come with an open mind and an understanding that it is trying to do something different. “There will also only be about 120 wines there so that in itself makes it very different,” says Jewell.

    It will be fascinating to see how it all comes together and hats off to Jewell and the team at Wine Australia for having the foresight to make it happen.

    Interestingly the US arm of Wine Australia will be on hand to see how it all goes with the intention of potentially doing something state-side too.

    Jewell is also shaking up the Australian Day tasting in January 2017. Aware that the popularity of the event had also become an issue in itself, the tasting is being moved to a new wine venue, The Location House in Bloomsbury, London. Crucially it has a capacity of 880 compared to the 500 that Wine Australia had clearly reached out grown at Lindley Hall this year.

    We can no doubt expect elements of September’s Artisan tasting to make their way into the main tasting in January.

     

    Better trading conditions

    Jewell certainly hopes the picture is a little bit more positive for Australian wine in the UK come January 2017 on the back of the Brexit vote in June. The fall out in the currency markets means it is now more expensive to import Australian wine into the UK. The strength of the Australian dollar against the pound now sits at around A$1.70 compared to A$1.95 on June 23, the day of the EU referendum vote.

    It is a figure that is etched into Jewell’s memory.

    The vote and impact on the Australian dollar could not have come at a worse time for its wine sector for, as Jewell explains, there was definitely more interest and hope Down Under that the UK was again the market for them to be in.

    She understands there will be initial caution and a collective push on the “pause” button, but hopes, in time, the good work that has been done in the UK, will be kept going in the months ahead.

    “I can see why are a lot of people will wait and see to find out what happens. But it (the Brexit vote) came just on the back of a period of stability for Australian wine in the UK,” she adds.

    In a way the Artisans of Australian wine tasting could not have come at a better time when the focus can be put on all the good, exciting and interesting things coming out of Australia.

    But if you do go be prepared, as Jewell says, to spend a day “in a multi-coloured nightclub, under the arches in Shoreditch”.

    It sounds like they might have more trouble getting people to leave than turn up.

     

    Winemakers attending include:

    Ray Nadeson

    Lethbridge

    Col McBride

    Adelina/Vine Mind

    Peter Fraser

    Yangarra Estate

    Mac Forbes

    Mac Forbes

    Andrew Marks

    Gembrook Hill

    Taras Ochota

    Ochota Barrels

    Gary Mills

    Jamsheed

    Luke Lambert

    Luke Lambert

    Timo Mayer

    Timo Mayer

    Con-Greg Grigoriou

    Delinquente Wine Co

    Sarah Morris

    Si Vintners

    Patrick

    Patrick Sullivan

    Xavier Goodridge

    Xavier

    Gareth Belton

    Gentle Folk

    Julian Castagna

    Castagna

    James Erskine

    Jauma

    Sue Bell

    Bellwether

    David Bowley

    Vinteloper

    Lucy Wilson

    Bremerton

    Tom Keenan

    The Pawn

    Jaysen Collins

    Massena

    Wayne Ahrens

    Small Fry

    BK and Kirsty Keys

    BK Wines

    Other wineries being shown include: Ministry of Clouds, CRFT, Sami Odi, La Violetta, Ruggabellus, LAS Vino, William Downie and Eperosa.

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