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All Saints be praised: recovery in regional wines


“2020 was the year of learning about tenacity and resilience”
– Eliza Brown


All Saints Estate. Image source: All Saints Wine.

During that terrible 2020, many of us would treat ourselves with a nice glass of wine. But in reality the wine industry suffered a terrible year as well. On top of the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry was hit by bushfires and trade restrictions.


For Eliza Brown, CEO of All Saints Estate, St Leonards Vineyard and Mount Ophir Estate, and part of the fourth generation family winemaking, “2020 was the year of learning about tenacity and resilience,” she says.


The Brown Family originally established Brown Brothers Winery in 1889 and is one of Australia’s leading family-owned wine companies. Siblings Eliza, Nick and Angela run the All Saints portfolio of businesses, which also includes Thousand Pound Wine Bar & Store in Rutherglen.


Eliza Brown, CEO All Saints Estate.


“In the first instance we were looking after our staff – who are our family - and making sure they were safe and protected. After the initial shock of managing staff and customer expectations, we went about looking at our business from a long-term point of view,” Eliza explains.


“We looked at where we could manage our costs and expenses and what sort of revenue would be coming in over that year.”


As COVID-19 restrictions ease in Australia, the domestic tourism market is opening up, a positive sign for businesses right around the country. Positively, for winemakers and many other regional industries, there’s a distinct focus on supporting locally made produce and experience, whether through tourism or simply buying local products online.


ANZ Economist Adelaide Timbrell says regional tourism spending has held up better than tourism in capital cities because of the exposure of capital cities to international tourism.


“Many Australian holidayers chose to travel into regional areas in lieu of international holiday options and in many cases to avoid impacts from state border risks,” she says. “This has led to strong accommodation spending in regional areas compared to cities.


Strong visitation into regional areas has also stimulated other parts of regional economies, including dining and other tourist-related activities.”

Metro vs regional dining and accommodation index.


Shifting customer preferences have also seen family businesses more heavily supported, a trend that rang true for All Saints Estate.


“During 2020 we found family wine companies were becoming the preference because people could really hold onto those values. I think people felt close to family values, being stuck at home and stuck inside,” Eliza says.


“Another trend we saw as a result of COVID-19 was an incredible interest in alternative varieties, which was great. So people were being more adventurous at home and doing online wine tastings with their friends.”


Eliza explains social media contributed to customer’s changing behaviours.


“People were seeing products they hadn’t seen before set-up on social media. (They were) being more adventurous and buying things online they previously might not have,” she says. “They really became a lot more confident in that buying process.”


All Saints Estate. Image source: All Saints Wine.


All Saints Estate adapted its businesses, using social media to its advantage. Without customers being able to visit its wineries, the business took the winery experience into customers’ homes via social media.


“Most of us are savvy with our social media - doing long-form videos about our products and giving people insight around the wineries via virtual tours,” Eliza says. Although she admits the productions were pretty raw, All Saints endeared itself to wine lovers from far and wide.


“I think because it is raw and it’s got people in their workplace talking about their product and it’s not scripted – it’s really lovely,” she says.


And finally - and all importantly – it’s a prosecco Eliza recommends we sample from the Brown Brothers range at this time of the year.


“We’ve had an amazing vintage for prosecco this year and obviously prosecco is growing by 60 – 70 per cent a year in sales, it’s a celebratory everyday drink,” Eliza says.


“The fruit looks amazing, it looks fresh, we’ve had an incredible season – there’s been cool nights and warm days, which is perfect for growing grapes.”


What better recommendation could there be – and supporting a local industry too.


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