Bird in Hand Winery at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills is recognised as one of Australia’s best, taking out numerous national awards.
Most recently, Winestate Magazine named Kym Milne, Bird in Hand’s Chief Winemaker and Master of Wine, 2014 Winemaker of the Year.
Founder and Director Andrew Nugent says the original plan was to develop one of the world’s greatest wineries and that’s certainly been achieved, with the 2010 Nest Egg Shiraz recently judged the best Shiraz in the world – two years running!
Wine is the cornerstone of Bird in Hand’s emergence as a stable of luxury brands with a diverse product range that includes an art gallery, concerts and events, fine olive oil, jewellery, leather goods, cashmere, silk, knitwear and a collection of men’s accessories.
The common factor is exceptional quality, and Global Brand Ambassador Justin Nugent is quick to point out that the branding around the Luxury Collection is a contributing factor to the company’s success in the Chinese market.
“We can trace our history back to the late 1990’s as a wine and olive producer, with the company taking its name from an iconic nearby gold mine which operated about 100 years earlier,” Justin said.
“We launched our wine in winter 2001 with the stated intent of building one of the world’s greatest wineries. Initially we were exporting about 90 per cent of our produce while growing the brand in Australia.
“The decision to export to China was largely driven by the need to grow wine sales to justify funding for our new bottling line at Woodside. We wanted total control over quality at every stage of the production process and we needed to increase already healthy sales, and to do that we turned to the Chinese market, where the rapidly growing middle class was becoming more and more interested in quality wines. And it has worked very well!”
Bird in Hand entered the Chinese market in 2011 following a chance visit to the cellar door at Woodside from the company which is now its business partner in China. That first visit was a result of being a five star Halliday-rated winery with a string of international awards and commendations.
They were originally keen to develop a range of winery cellar doors based on different locations for different brands, but soon realised the high cost of brand building and chose to focus on Bird in Hand with its established global brand, relationships developed through frequent market visits and a label and brand story that translated well.
The first exports were the premium wine and olive oil range, which were very well received, adding the entire Luxury Collection the following year.
“We entered the China market through a mix of many factors, primarily the fact we had we had a clear direction from the Board that China was our major focus and this direction coincided with our Chinese partners deciding to invest in the Australian wine industry,” Justin said.
“So when our partners came knocking we were export ready and able to demonstrate our commitment to support brand building with a long term approach.”
Justin says there are now three Bird in Hand cellar door outlets in China, and a fourth has recently been converted to a restaurant – mirroring the experience that can be found at their new Gallery Restaurant in Woodside.
“The Cellar Doors and restaurant are all in Liaoning Province in north-eastern China and play a vital role in establishing and promoting our brand in China,” Justin said,
“There is no doubt that China will be an increasingly important export market for the Bird in Hand collection of luxury brands, which is why we are partnering with other leading South Australian high-quality producers in Beerenberg, Ferguson Seafoods and Haigh’s at the SA Showcase promotion - #SASBeijing at the Hilton Hotel in Beijing from November to February.
“The South Australian Government, Wine Australia and the Australian Government have been very supportive of everything we do, and eight years of Export Development Grants certainly assisted us.
“The FTA with China will not only make our Bird in Hand wines more cost effective to the end user – but will foster stronger relationships between business leaders in the two countries.”
Justin is a regular visitor to China and a firm believer that developing lasting relationships and friendships is crucial to business success there.