Being a wine maker is hard graft. It’s challenging, requires patience and financial reserves. Smaller companies often reach a point where they could go bigger and achieve more, but are held back due to financial restrictions.
It was this very situation that lead Booster to invest in its first wine company. Since then, Booster’s investment into the wine industry has grown significantly and the Booster Wine Group was established in July 2019. The Booster Wine Group comprises of Awatere River Wine Company, Waimea Estate, Bannock Brae and Sileni Estates, and includes a world-class wine production facility, Gravity.
Nigel Avery joined Sileni Estates, a family business, in 2008. Now joint CEO of Booster Wine Group, his passion for the company is evident. “We’re large enough to be meaningful, but small enough to be personal. That’s an important factor in this industry.”
Nigel believes the diversification of the group is paramount to the commercial success of the group.
“What’s unique about the Booster Wine Group is the level of diversification we have. We have wineries in 3 locations across New Zealand and produce multiple varietals to support our number one selling Sauvignon Blanc juggernaut. You could say that we could be classified as a ‘one-stop shop’ – offering lots of options to satisfy customer demand.”
Working with an investment partner with a long-term focus was key for the companies that formed the Booster Wine Group.
“It’s been great working with Booster. The management team are very knowledgeable. And, because they’re outside of the wine industry, they offer a fresh perspective and different ways of looking at things.”
The key strategy for Booster Wine Group is to utilise each company’s unique set of skills and strengths, and create synergies in both production and operational areas across the group.
“We’re able to harness our complementary strengths, and utilise different aspects to improve our overall production capabilities. It might be as simple as moving wine-making gear around as needed. Booster’s investment means we’re able to utilise tools to make the best wine possible."
Despite the current environment, Booster Wine Group has been able to carry on with key activities – crucially, harvest. In fact, the great summer and ideal weather has led to excellent fruit quality and a bumper harvest. At the start of April, Booster Wine Group was about 99% harvested in Hawkes Bay, and 95% harvested in Marlborough.
“This year’s harvest means we’ll be able to continue supply well into next year and beyond. That’s reassuring for staff and suppliers and means we can continue to operate with minimal impact in this challenging Covid-19 environment. None of our approximately 90 staff have been affected so far. We’ve been able to continue working, putting in place extra measures to keep our staff safe during this unusual time,” comments Nigel.
Booster Wine Group’s spread of partners around the world will ensure that sales will continue, despite any momentary dip.
“We have a diversified distribution platform. Some of our partners specialise in on-premise sales but others have both retail and online activity. Actually, the immediate impact has been that demand for our product has risen.”
Nigel believes the future is bright for New Zealand’s wine industry. “We punch above our weight when compared against our international competitors, no question about it. And, because viable vineyard land is becoming scarce, we can’t keep planting to force an oversupply in the market, so the long-term prospects for NZ wine are strong.”
“After all, people drink wine in good times – and in bad!”