Photo credit: Peter Mathew

Tasmanian winemaker Anna Pooley looks over the vineyards at the family-owned Pooley Wines in Richmond, near Hobart, smiles and just shakes her head at what’s come and gone. General manager Angela Gosden has the words though: “An exercise in crisis management.”

The last two years have been utterly tumultuous for Australian wineries. No wine region has been spared. Vineyards across south-east Australia lost entire crops to smoke taint from the 2020 Black Summer bushfires. Lockdowns shut out customers from cellar doors and killed the restaurant trade. Then in November last year our biggest export market in China collapsed after prohibitive tariffs were slapped on Australian wine, wiping out over $400 million in export value. More recent lockdowns in NSW and Victoria exacerbated the pain just when recovery was in sight. But against all odds, wineries have still found a way to not just survive but thrive, riding a wave of innovation they hope will future-proof the industry. And they say the best is still to come.

Pooley Wines general manager Angela Gosden describes the last two years as “an exercise in crisis management,” as the winery endured lengthy periods without their NSW and Victorian customers, who make up 80 percent of their business. She says pivoting to direct-to-consumer sales through their strong data base and wine club membership allowed them to connect with customers while borders were closed. “It was an opportunity for self-assessment, and then when borders finally opened, the cellar door went ballistic.” Gosden says last summer was their best on record, and this summer could top that…

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