Watkins Grape + Wine

 

 

The Watkins Grape + Wine Story

Watkins Grape + Wine (WG+W) offers bulk wine and wine industry services: contract processing and contract storage, and is the largest winery in the Adelaide Hills wine region with a site production capacity of 5,000 tons or 3.7 million litres of wine.

The WG+W is located less than one hour’s drive from Adelaide International Airport making it easily accessible to international customers.

Grape + Wine Services

Watkins Grape + Wine (WG+W) is one of the largest premium bulk wine supply companies in Australia’s cool climate regions and specialises in producing large volumes of truly premium grade wines in both bulk and bottled format. The grapes for these premium wines are sourced mainly from the company owned vineyards (some of which are approaching 50 years of age) along with fruit purchased from selected growers. This means consistency and certainty of quality supply, which is critically important to our customers who are trusting us with their long-term supply relationships.

WG+W continues to grow and make the following wine varieties and qualities:

  • Ultra-premium grade: Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Super-premium grade: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Grenache
  • Premium grade: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache, GSM, Sangiovese and Chardonnay

The WG+W team have significant skills in tanker, shipping container and flexi-tank loading from years of bulk and bottled wine shipping experience both within Australia and many international destinations.

In addition to continuing to grow, produce and sell premium bulk wine, WG+W offers custom crush services, wine storage in stainless steel wine tanks and barrel storage in its large air-conditioned and fully insulated warehouse. WG+W  also produces bottled wines, which can be purchased with a customer’s own “private” label.

The Winery

59 Grants Gully Road, Chandlers Hill, South Australia | Located on a 7.5 hectare site with main road frontage, Watkins Grape + Wine (WG+W) operates a 40 tonne/hour Miller crusher/destemmer, two Bucher bag presses, a range of fermenter sizes from 10 tons to 65 tons, 4.5 million litres of stainless-steel tank storage and on-site laboratory facilities.

The facility uses the Vintrace winery software to monitor and record all wine history, analysis and Label Integrity Program (LIP) data, Along with the recent addition of an upgraded refrigeration plant and a new cloud-based tank temperature control system.

The 3,000 square metre insulated, and air-conditioned warehouse has large areas for barrel storage as well as underfloor concrete drainage to allow the barrel work to take place indoors and away from the weather and elements.

As WG+W will not be utilising the full 5,000 ton processing capacity of the winery from its 121 hectares of vineyards (plus growers), it is seeking relationships with a limited number of clients for which to undertake contract processing and winemaking work at the site.

We began offering these contract winemaking services in 2005 and now have fifteen years of experience upon which to draw. In 2009 winemaker & son Sam Watkins joined the team and no one knows the Winery better than him. More recently, older brother Ben has returned to add his considerable experience and management capability to the team from the United States where he worked for PwC accounting firm.

Vineyards

The Watkins Grape + Wine (WG+W) vineyards are located in the cool climate regions of South Australia where the maritime influence created by the afternoon sea breezes regulates the average summer ripening temperatures to tranquil levels that allow fruit flavours to develop without excessive sugar production. The vineyards are located in three recognized regions Langhorne Creek and Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale.

The Adelaide Hills region takes advantage of elevation at 470 metres above sea level providing positive influence on varietal character assisted in particular by the cool night temperatures.

The Langhorne Creek region has become recognised for its powerful wines with great varietal character and balanced tannins that are formed by the extended ripening time created by the influence of the ocean. The nearby region of McLaren Vale also benefits from these influences to make wines of power and elegance.

This area is one of the best locations in the world to produce Icon, Ultra-premium, Super-premium and Premium wines and through WG+W, these wines are made available in bulk parcels and OEM labelled bottled product to customers in Australia and all over the world.

History

The Watkins family entered the Australian wine industry in 1997, when David Watkins and his wife Ros Watkins purchased land in the Currency Creek region of South Australia to plant a premium quality vineyard. After 22 years of growth the portfolio comprised 485 hectares of premium vineyards in four regions (Adelaide Hills, Currency creek, Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale) and two wineries (Chandlers Hill and Boar’s Rock) with a total processing capacity of 15,000 tonnes of grapes.

In 2019, the Watkins family amicably separated its business from its 50% partner and restructured to incorporate David’s and Ros’ sons and daughter. The next generation of the family comprises Sam Watkins as Winemaking Director, Ben Watkins as Commercial Director and Jo Watkins as Brand Director, who have already worked with David and Ros in the business for some years.

Winemaker

Since 2005 when he first joined the Australian wine industry, Sam Watkins has been training and refining his palate and winemaking skills. After being appointed as Wine Expert at Penfolds Magill Estate restaurant while studying Oenology at university, Sam completed vintages as Winemaker with internationally recognised celebrities such as Philip Shaw and Sue Hodder. In 2017, Sam was awarded the prestigious Wayne Thomas Scholarship and has been appointed a Show Judge and Associate at both capital city and regional wine shows. Sam regularly features as a judge in national wine industry publications and is Chair of the Langhorne Creek Wine Show Organisation. His winemaking specialisation focuses on unlocking the optimal expression of variety from the cooler climate premium fruit produced on the family’s vineyards.

Commercial Director

After completing master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Chartered Accounting and Business Management, from 2012, Ben Watkins further developed his commercial skills working for big four business powerhouses EY and PWC in Australia and the United States. These skills that he developed while serving multinational mature company clients are well applied to our medium sized family company with significant growth aspirations. During his early years, Ben completed vintages as a cellar-hand at Fleurieu Vintners Winery and was appointed a specialist Fine Wine Sales Consultant to a large wine retailer in the Adelaide region. The lure of the family business association in the world class Australian wine industry proved too much to resist and Ben now uses his internationally recognised skills in helping the business grow.

Watkins Grape + Wine Difference

Vertically Integrated

Watkins Grape + Wine (WG+W) is one of the few producers dedicated to cool climate premium bulk wine that owns its source vineyards, thereby ensuring certainty of supply through all stages of the wine industry cycle. Most other cool climate producers either make wine for their own labels, keep the best of it and sell just the volume that is surplus to their own requirements or they predominantly buy fruit from other growers to supply their products thereby not maintaining control over fruit supply. Our commitment creates long lasting relationships with our customers.

Dedication to Volume While Maintaining Quality

The WG+W business model is based on selling premium wine in bulk. For the domestic market, this means loading premium bulk wine to road tanker and for the export market, loading bottle ready wine to flexi-tanks housed in freight containers. The largest export shipment that the management team at WG+W has sent offshore comprised 38 x 24,000 litre shipping containers in the one shipment. All flexi-tanks arrived in good condition and to the customer’s satisfaction.

Strong Industry Relationships

WG+W sells its products and services directly to wine industry customers both in Australia and international locations including Canada, China, New Zealand, Scandinavia and the USA. As the Australian wine industry only has a little over fifty wine companies that crush more than three thousand tonnes of grapes, there are few companies able to provide the certainty of supply necessary to service large Australian and international wine companies.

Sales can be forward contracted, based on an annual purchase order or on a casual basis.

Further information can be obtained from Ben Watkins at ben@watkins.wine or come and visit us at the Winery in the Adelaide Hills region in South Australia. 

Ben Watkins

  • Commercial Director
  • +61 415 571 574
  • ben@watkins.wine
  • 59 Grants Gully Road, Chandlers Hill, South Australia 5159