Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (SLO) offers the largest Wine and Viticulture program in the United States. The major integrates three fundamental components of the wine industry into concentrations: Enology, Viticulture and Wine Business. This summer I worked at Charles Communications Associates as an intern and I am in the Wine Business track, which includes the Wine & Viticulture fundamental classes, wine business orientated classes (such as Branded Wine Marketing, Wine Sales & E-Commerce, and Wine Law & Compliance), and agribusiness classes. As one of the graduation requirements, each student must complete a Senior Project, specifically tailored to their field of interest and concentration. To fulfill this requirement, I embarked on a journey with 25 other Cal Poly students to attend the University of Adelaide, SA for the winter quarter. We immersed ourselves in Australian culture as well as the practices of the Southern Hemisphere wine industry. As my senior project, Isurveyed the marketing practices of different South Australian viticultural areas, which we visited once or twice a week, and eventually produced a proposal for a marketing plan for a wine region of my choice.
Throughout the intensive 8-week program we visited the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Kangaroo Island, and Barossa Valley. In each region we visited an array of large producing facilities (Wolf Blass and Molly Dooker) and small, family-run wineries (Coriole, Deviation Road, Oliver’s Taranga). Of the many wineries we visited, my favorite facilities were Shaw + Smith and the National Wine Centre of Australia.
The National Wine Centre of Australia has a beautiful facility located in Adelaide’s city center among picturesque botanical gardens. It offers a secluded feel while being walking distance from the center of the city and the train station. The center is dedicated to wine education and appreciation housing a free self-guided, state-of-the art museum of wine, the largest cellar in the Southern Hemisphere with a capacity of 38,000 bottles (left), classrooms for wine education and seated tastings, as well as a tasting room and restaurant open daily. The tasting room was what I call “an arcade for wine geeks”. With over 120 bottles available for tasting, the arcade offered tastes, half-glasses, and full-glasses ranging from everyday finds, to premium bottles with SRP’s in the thousands. Needless to stay, my colleagues and I would wander with our professors from class to the “Center,” as we would call it, for hours of fun.
Our visit to Shaw + Smith, conveniently located in the Adelaide Hills region, was a combination of great company, a beautiful day, a breathtaking view, and most of all, some “bloody good” Sauvignon Blanc. Shaw + Smith is owned by Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith MW. Mr. Smith was the first Australian to pass the Master of Wine examination and Mr. Shaw is a founder of the Flying Winemakers network in France, Spain, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand. Needless to say the amount of resources for this company is plentiful and it manifests itself in their wine.
Of all the pests we have here in the States- thank your stars and stripes you don’t have to worry about kangaroos and snakes getting into your vineyard block! We watched a court of kangaroos hopping in and out of the rows while tasting the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2013 Pinot Noir, and the 2014 Shiraz.. Of all the surreal moments on my trip, it was sitting in the tasting room looking through the ceiling high glass walls at the 180 degree view of the vineyards where I reached a new level of contentment.
South Australia is home to world-renowned wines which I feel honored to have veni, vidi & vici’d, and while the wine industry is changing everyday, the opportunity to have an understanding and an appreciation of the Southern Hemisphere’s perspective on the industry is something I will hold dear to my heart throughout my career.
All the Swirl is a collections of thoughts and opinions assembled by the staff and industry friends of Charles Communications Associates, a marketing communications firm with its headquarters in San Francisco, California. We invite you to explore more about our company and clients by visiting www.charlescomm.com.