'Brands need soul' - McGuigan

The wine trade needs more high-profile ambassadors to inject personality into brands in the face of tough supermarket trading, according to Australian Vintage’s chief winemaker Neil McGuigan.

McGuigan, who was crowned the world’s best white winemaker for the second year running at last week’s International Wine Challenge, has warned suppliers must nurture a brand’s “soul” which can be damaged by retailers.

He told OLN: “We are about long-term brand building. To maintain a brand it has to have soul, all brands have a soul to start with. Sometimes that soul can be enhanced by FMCG attitudes, sometimes it can destroy it.
“You can ask a consumer whether they buy Wolf Blass and who makes it, and they will say Wolf Blass because it has a personality. It’s the same with Hardys. It’s about the personality you wrap around the wine and then it’s about being clever with what you do with it. The industry doesn’t applaud these statesmen and what they have done for Australia. We need these kinds of statesmen to represent their brands and the wine category.

"Twenty five years ago, there would have been between 25 and 30 big names and personalities at the forefront of the Australian industry. But who is there now? There is Peter Gago at Penfolds and  a few others, but through takeovers and consolidation we have lost those personalities from the

Outlining his plans for the company’s future following the departure of UK general manager Paul Schaafsma, who has joined rival accolade Wines, he said: “The timing is right for us to push harder into Europe. It’s not to
anyone’s detriment, but we haven’t got it right there yet.

"We are doing a better job than we’ve ever done on our entry level and popular premium ranges, so we will build on the premium sector with targeted launches for different sectors. We are really on a roll domestically and internationally, even the accountants are excited.”