Editor’s Note: Vintner Magazine covers the United States wine industry but occasionally offers international insights from wineries and wine-oriented businesses in other parts of the world to give our readers a global perspective.
Jules Taylor Wines is in Marlborough, New Zealand, which is on the south island in that country, a region known for its Sauvignon Blanc. Co-owner and General Manager George Elworthy is married to fellow co-owner, Head Winemaker and business namesake Jules Taylor and answered questions from Vintner Magazine about what the winery learned this year, how it’s applied those lessons and where it plans to go from here.
VINTNER: What are some of the biggest adjustments you made this year to mitigate the figurative storm wrought by 2020?
ELWORTHY: One of the biggest adjustments this year was having much smaller crops than usual – but that change was wrought by Mother Nature, not by us! We have worked hard to ensure our distribution partners receive allocations that meet their needs, despite the global shipping challenges at the moment. We have paid particular attention to getting more granular in forecasting and changed payment terms where necessary to allow our partners to ship more stock earlier to avoid delays and disruption to our end consumers.
VINTNER: What have been some of your biggest growth drivers this year?
ELWORTHY: Through 2021, we have invested in our digital capabilities and our direct-to-consumer communications. We expect to see these continue to pay dividends through 2022 andbeyond.
VINTNER: What innovation is your winery looking at right now, be it in technology, equipment, raw materials, business model, etc.? How have you pegged that to help in the growth or development of your company?
ELWORTHY: Our focus for 2022 will be in the vineyards. We are planning to redevelop our home vineyard for closer spacing and perhaps some different varieties. We are also planting more cover crops and investigating more regenerative farming practices. As part of this approach, we are working with our neighbors to regenerate a stream that runs around the boundary of our property to restore it to its original native plantings and encourage native birdlife back to the area.
VINTNER: What “words of wisdom” do you have for a winery that is opening in the coming year?
ELWORTHY: Don’t do it! It’s a complex business that rewards good relationships, solid distribution and logistics networks, and of course great-tasting wines! Getting all those right takes time, persistence, and a healthy dose of humor when it doesn’t work out!
VINTNER: What trends in consumer purchasing habits do you foresee?
ELWORTHY: I think people are more conscious of where they spend their money now. We have certainly seen a move to support local, smaller producers and family businesses.
VINTNER: Are you planning for new brands? What are you working on now to be your newest assets in your portfolio for the coming year?
ELWORTHY: We launched a new Rosé in New Zealand last year. It has been really popular and so we are looking forward to taking that to new markets in 2022.