A well-known WA wine-making family has rebranded its main company to better market its wine labels.
Mitch Crowe-Hardy reports.
HOWARD Park Wines has rebranded itself as Burch Family Wines and plans to build an educational tasting facility at its winery in Margaret River to better cater for the growing number of Chinese tourists.
The name was chosen to create a distinction between the winemaker's umbrella company and its three production labels. The Burch family members now work in the company and they wanted to create an umbrella name for the company's different brands.
Burch Family Wines was started in 1986 by Jeff and Amy Burch.
"When Jeff and I first started many years ago it was just us working with our winemakers," Mrs Burch told Gusto. "Now all my family is involved in the wine business."
Today, their children work in the business. David is sales and marketing manager, Richard manages its east coast brands, and Natalie is operations manager.
Mrs Burch said the original name, Howard Park Wines, was misleading.
Burch Family Wines produces wine under the Howard Park, MadFish and Marchand & Burch labels, including both still and sparkling wines.
"Calling it Howard Park Wines was misleading; we needed to reinvent a name for the umbrella company over these brands and Burch Family Wines was the logical choice," Mrs Burch said.
"It's a marketing exercise to explain to people that all these wines come under one name."
Howard Park Wines has been retained as the trading name.
A $110,000 Tourism WA grant will help pay for construction of the tasting facility, called the Wine Chapel, which will incorporate English and Mandarin translations and a `museum' premium educational experience.
"We've got to match the (Tourism WA) grant dollar for dollar and we'll put a lot more in," she said.
"It will be a proper premium tasting room, it won't just be a cellar door, where we will be able to talk to and cater for up to 25 people."
"Our ultimate aim is to employ young Western Australian Mandarin speakers at the new facility."
The state's main wine industry body, Wines of Western Australia, identified China as a market with significant growth potential.
Last financial year, the state's wine sales to China grew by $7.2 million to a record high of $13.7 million. The per-litre price of WA wine increased from $5.04 per litre in 2010-11 to $6.38 in the year to June 30.
Burch Family Wines has recognised the emergence of the Chinese market, increasing its exports, but has chosen to focus on a wider range of countries to lift sales.
"We don't see China taking the lion's share of the market right now ... a spread is the safest option," Mrs Burch said. "Our biggest market is still the UK ... and Asia the next biggest, we're in a lot of countries, both large and small." "The UK is not a great market however at the moment with the dollar the way it is but it's not a market you want to move away from."
The company has strong ties with Europe through its partnership with French wine-maker Pascal Marchand. In 2007 it produced the first vintage of Marchand & Burch made from Australian grapes and the label has expanded to include wine produced from the Burgundy region in France.
WA Business News Mitch Crowe-Hardy 10 October 2012