Export Finance Australia’s Small Business Export Loan helped micro wine business, Evoi Wines, take its Western Australian wines to the Caribbean.
It’s hard to believe that a Chardonnay produced in a garage would earn the praise of respected wine critics. But that’s exactly what happened when Margaret River winemaker, Nigel Ludlow, launched Evoi Wines in 2007.
“I started by producing two barrels of Chardonnay in my garage, which got great reviews,” says Nigel. “From those two barrels, I doubled my volume each year. Then I did a Reserve Red, and then the business just kept growing until it became too big for my home – so I moved into a winery.”
It was a fast evolution for the winemaker.
“Even with just two barrels you still have to set up the winery and do all the legal stuff involved,” he says. “The last four years have been especially quick, with my volume going from 15 tonnes to 120 tonnes.”
‘Evoi’ is the Latin word describing the ‘scream of joy’ emitted by followers of the Greek wine god, Bacchus – and the wine clearly lives up to its name. Despite being a micro-winery, the Evoi range has attracted more than its fair share of awards and critical praise.
The company won the Western Australian Winery of the Year at the Melbourne International Wine Show 2015 and is now a 5 Red Star Halliday-rated winery – an honour bestowed on few by Australia’s most respected wine critic and writer, James Halliday.
A knock on the door
Nigel says that he always intended to export his wine – and he has been selling overseas since Day 1.
“A guy from the UK knocked on the door as he’d seen the Halliday review, and I started exporting through him,” Nigel says.
A lucky break perhaps – but Nigel stresses that exporting involves a great deal of hard work.
“None of it’s easy – brand recognition and getting your name out there has been the hardest step for me. Finding the right partner is also key. At the moment, I export about a fifth of what I produce, but my goal is to increase that to about a third.”
While UK sales have dropped off recently, he’s branched out to some atypical markets – Jamaica, Norway and Hong Kong.
“In Norway, imports are government controlled – a panel chooses which wines are going to be accepted. They put out a submission and I entered my wine into a tasting – and one got accepted, which was great.”