Q & A with Melanie Brown - Founder of The Australian Cellar
Melanie Brown speaks about the concept and objective of her business, sourcing wines and consumer requirements.
Melanie Brown started The Australian Cellar with hopes that site will become a platform to explore stories, people and sentiment behind Australian New World wines. In an interview with the London Wine Competition team, she explained the concept and objective of The Australian Cellar, and Australian Wines.
Tell us what the concept and objective of The Australian Cellar is?
Melanie: My aim with The Australian Cellar is to create a platform that showcases the breadth of Australian wine, looking at smaller producers, but also highlighting the integrity of some of the oldest wineries that have captivated the UK market to date. Australia has had a bad image for so long, and I believe there is a strong case to change this by showcasing new energy and quality landing from Australia!
How can you buy the wines?
Melanie: We'll be online-only initially (www.theaustraliancellar.co.uk), but hope to be looking at venue options soon. Having a space that can bring these wines to life will be paramount to bringing new energy and following to Australia, but in the meantime, consumers should keep an eye out for one-off events from The Australian Cellar, as we plan to host ad hoc tastings, talks and pop-ups across London.
What sort of consumers are you hoping to attract?
Melanie: A wide selection! We believe wine appeals to such a wide variety of consumers, and should be celebrated at varied price points, hence our focus on creating a platform that is enticing and driven by a wide selection of styles. Our tastings always attract a younger audience, whereas our online presence is definitely a more affluent demographic, which shows that there is an amazing opportunity to attract both brackets and develop an interest in the wines across the board.
Are you hoping your audience from New Zealand cellars will buy into this?
Melanie: There is such wonderful synchronicity between these two countries, so YES! We'll also be merging the two sites soon, which will enable consumers to purchase the full range across each of the sites, which in turn makes this extremely exciting from a marketing perspective - using each of the sites to cross-pollinate will open many more doors for both NZ and Australian wine lovers.
How are you sourcing your wine?
Melanie: We're sourcing through distributors based here in the UK, however, we will eventually look to import small parcels of exclusive wines - hopefully by 2019!
What criteria do you use when buying a wine to sell?
Melanie: It has to be based around quality, I always look for wines that have balance, this is the foundation of all my choices. Vineyard stories are important too, this helps with connecting wines with people. Consumers are captivated by stories, and people trust people - it is always nice to convey stories that resonate personally, this ultimately sells a wine too.
What do you think consumers are looking for in Australian wine?
Melanie: I think the UK has been badly affected by poor bulk supermarket wine for several generations. It is super easy to get consumers excited about Australian wine now - we are at a crossroads, whereby they are beginning to understand the quality and diversity coming from Australia, there is a new wave, a new edge coming to market, and showcasing this to consumers is our aim.
What sort of wines/ price points will you have?
Melanie: An amazing selection, starting from £10 all the way up to £100+
Any special events/ tastings planned?
Melanie: Our annual Garage Sale, which will be Saturday 8th December at Pop Brixton. We created the event through The New Zealand Cellar as a wine day out, connecting people, wine and fun times through an interactive wine tasting, supported by live DJs and a party atmosphere. 2018 will be the first year that we feature Australia too, so we'll have 16 producers in total from across New Zealand and Australia. We also reduce our prices, encouraging consumers to stock up before Christmas, it is such a fun day out! Check it out at https://theaustraliancellar.co .uk/products/garage-sale
How is the New Zealand Cellar, your original store in Brixton, doing?
Melanie: Amazing, we're moving from strength to strength, our focus at the moment is growing our online offering.
What is selling most from New Zealand and why?
Melanie: Pinot Noir! We seem to have created a real hub for this humble grape. New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to really contest Burgundy - and at a smidge of the price - its super exciting to introduce these wines to the UK, and follow the response we see from consumers. And I love it - the range of styles and characters produced throughout New Zealand is really quite special.
About the Author
Richard Siddle is an award-winning business editor with over 25 years experience working across a number of fields including computing, FMCG, grocery and convenience retailing, travel and for the last 10 years wine and spirits. He spent much of that time as editor of Harpers Wine & Spirit where he was widely recognised for having turned one of the UK’s oldest publications into an agenda setting, must read for the drinks industry.