Buller takes another step forward

By Jarryd Barca

General Manager of 96-year-old winery Buller Wines, Paul Squires has taken innovation to the next level. 

The popular winery has had a substantial upgrade since its change of owners in 2013, particularly through a significant investment in its infrastructure.

“The upgrades include a whole new winery capable of doing 3,000 bottles of wine per hour, we’ve also put in a new crushing plant, new warehouse and logistics area, we’ve done up the cellar door and have a new restaurant as well. The investment in infrastructure has been for both wine and tourism,” Mr Squires told The Free Press.

Already exporting to the US, Denmark, New Zealand and a small part of the UK, Buller wines received a $10,000 grant to go towards its new China Export Development Programme. 

“We had been exporting to the US but recognised China as a major market with the growth taking place there in Australian wine due to the changes in taxation,” Mr Squires said.

“We developed a partnership and started that just over 12 months ago. We’re using the grant for marketing and for attending China on a minimum of three occasions, but we’ll be over there four times.”

Mr Squires has just recently visited China to help launch a store over there, visiting three different cities. He said there a lot of distribution channels in China which enabled him to better understand them, meeting with people either already selling Buller wine or in the process of. 

There are different rules associated with the sale of wine that differs China from the US.

“We do our US export through distributer Southern Starz and they’ve been exceptionally good in getting us into places like Disneyland where our fortified wines are selling particularly well, especially in their bars there,” Mr Squires said.

“In China the distribution channels are significantly different, they use wine in restaurants in similar ways that they do in Australia and other places in the world, however they also use it for gifts and for corporate events.” 

Squires explained the importance of getting involved in the Chinese market.

 “At the moment it’s really interesting because we initially thought that the China market would be more focused on our more entry level wines, however the growth for us has really been in the premium wine area, so our top-end wines are selling exceptionally well there,” he said. 

Mr Squires said while they’ve considerably enhanced the Rutherglen site over four or five years, they wish to maximise their Swan Hill site. “Between the two we’ve got continued capacity for growth,” he said.

“We’re going to continue to look to open up our export markets. We’ll also be looking at bringing a wide range of new labels to the domestic market.”

 More than $1.18 million was delivered for 65 projects with the aim of increasing local and international markets, boost wine tourism and overall grow wine businesses. 

Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development Jaala Pulford announced the funding from the second round of the Wine Growth Fund, which supports Victoria’s 21 unique wine regions. 

“We’re raising a glass to Victorian producers and wine businesses across our state and providing vital grants to take Victorian wine to the world,” Ms Pulford said. 

“The fund aims to grow the industry by providing innovative growers, organisations and projects with funding to expand – supporting activities from the vineyard to the cellar door and beyond.”

Mr Squires said he was thankful that the Wine Growth Fund was able to occur.

“It’s all been made possible due to the corporation between ourselves, Wine Australia and Regional Development Victoria, it’s a real positive for us to be working with them and we’re very thankful,” he said. 

Buller Wines is also hoping for people to flock through the doors during the Great Victorian Bike Ride, which travels through the Rutherglen region this year. Buller will have live music through the picnic area and are looking forward to exposing their product to the 4,000 people who are estimated to be riding in this year’s event. 

“We’ve worked closely with Winemakers of Rutherglen and buses will be transporting to 19 different wineries that are contributing,” Mr Squires said.

“We’re hoping those people can come along both to other wineries and Buller’s as well.”