Article by: Hari Yellina
Although Riverland wines can be found in upscale establishments from Sydney to New York, South Australian winemaker Ashley Ratcliff claims that finding them there is the most difficult. The director of Ricca Terra Farms is advocating for more regional wines to be offered on the menus of the area’s bars and clubs. The vast majority of wines would be local if you were in the Barossa, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, or perhaps most wine grape growing regions worldwide, according to Mr. Ratcliff. So, if we can get 50% of [Riverland wine] on menus, that would be a major accomplishment.
Jim Markeas, winemaker at Mallee Estate, said the Riverland had a problem with tall poppy syndrome despite his family’s proud 25-year history of producing Riverland wines. The Tourism Industry Council of South Australia named Renmark as the top tourist destination in the state, and his family owns a restaurant and cellar door there. Enhancing the accessibility of regional wines, according to Mr. Markeas, is essential to marketing the area as a travel destination. When relatives and friends come to visit, Mr. Markeas said, “you take them to your favourite restaurant or the neighbourhood bar, and [when] they have a local product there you have a great experience.”
“You may be down by the river, sipping on some locally produced sparkling… and then you take those memories home and tell your friends – that’s how you create the reputation of the area.” Yianni Koutouzis, a second-generation grape grower, recalled that he first drank local wine at the family dining table out of an unlabeled flagon. When I was a young child living on a farm, [the Riverland] wasn’t really thought of as a really big wine region, he added. While the neighbourhood wine shop had long carried his 68 Roses brand, Mr. Koutouzis claimed he had recently secured supplies to a significant chain of bottle stores. Because of the high demand, particularly from visitors, “they were really hunting for good quality local wines,” he said.
Riverland Wine, a trade group, has been looking for fresh approaches to raise the region’s prominence. Recently, it hired acclaimed author Katie Spain and worldwide photographer Matt Wilson to document the personalities of winemakers for a campaign called Riverland Uprising. Lyndall Rowe, executive office at Riverland Wine, stated that the company planned to collaborate with Destination Riverland, the area’s tourism organisation, to promote wine sales in the area. The sector has just completely transformed and we can’t keep doing what we did in the past, she said, citing the enormous changes occurring throughout the world due to China and shipping.