Idyll Wine targeting growth in export market after $7m investment in plant

A $7 MILLION investment in its plant is set to see Geelong’s oldest winery increase its grape-crushing capacity by about 50 per cent over the next two years as it targets growth in the export market.

The expansion of its highly automated crushing, fermentation and storage systems will allow Idyll Wine to process about 20,000 tonnes of fruit a year, up from its current throughput of about 13,500 tonnes.

Idyll currently exports about half of the 20 million bottles of wine it produces at its Moorabool operation, while in Australia its major clients are Coles and Aldi.

Executive director Andrew Byers said that since a change in ownership 2½ years ago production at the winery had doubled using the available capacity, but there was now a need to add more crushing and storage capacity.

“We will probably look at over the next 18 months at about $7 million of investment,” Mr Byers said.

This year the company plans to add four million litres of fermentation and storage capacity to its massive winemaking operation, which currently holds 17 million litres. A further three million litres of capacity is planned for the following year.

Mr Byers said the accompanying bottling system ran 24-hours a day, five days a week, but there was still significant unused capacity.

The scale and efficiencies of the operation allow the production of quality wine at a low price point.

“We still have the art and the science of winemaking that goes into it,” Mr Byers said.

“We are still treating every wine that comes through as a batch, it’s just a bigger batch.”

He said by drawing on the efficiencies of volume and size, Idyll could deliver a product at the right price which also had consistent quality every year.

Idyll produces a range of products, involving a vast number of brands, available on the shelf from $5 to $40 a bottle, but it is heavily geared to the under $10 market.

Mr Byers said the quality of wines at the more affordable end of the market had improved dramatically over the past decade on the back of increased competition, improved skills and systems at wineries and vineyards and because it was coming off a low base.