22nd January, 2015 by Gabriel Stone http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2015/01/hill-smith-leads-aussie-hearts-and-minds-mission/
Yalumba’s Robert Hill-Smith has taken over as chairman of Australia’s First Families of Wine with a mission to put the country “back on the catwalk”.
An outspoken ambassador for Australia’s top quality wines, Hill-Smith has previously called for a broader perspective that distinguishes between the country’s mainstream supermarket offerings and the excitement on offer higher up the price spectrum.
Taking over from Mitchell Taylor of Taylors Wines (which trades as Wakefield Wines in the northern hemisphere), Hill-Smith’s primary target for 2015 will be North America. In May the 12-strong group of AFFW wineries will launch their programme in the US for the first time and return to Canada after an earlier visit in 2011.
Outlining plans for the trip, a two week tour that will take in 13 events across five cities, Hill-Smith said: “we are going onto the front foot to get back into the hearts and minds of the wine drinking public.”
As for the potential offered by North America, he maintained: “Australia’s finest wine has a definite opportunity there and we want to bring it back into fashion and sustain our proposition.”
Launched in 2009, AFFW comprises some of Australia’s oldest and most respected family owned business from across the country. These include: Brown Brothers, Campbells, d’Arenberg, De Bortoli Wines, Henschke, Howard Park, Jim Barry Wines, McWilliam’s Wines, Tahbilk, Taylors, Tyrrell’s Wines and Yalumba.
Setting out their joint strategy, which has a particular focus on raising Australia’s presence in the on-trade, Hill-Smith explained: “Our plan is to shift the needle on the radar of demand for the fine wines of Australia, both here and overseas.”
While noting that the group’s activities tie in closely with the wider work being done by Wine Australia, Hill-Smith added: “The time is right for us to show our commitment to that market and be there in person to tell our stories, make a lot of noise and have some fun. We’re going in, firing on all cylinders.”