Toast to success: Capel Vale’s UK exports resume with FTA

Photos courtesy of Capel Vale Winery.

Capel Vale Winery is again exporting to the United Kingdom after the Aus-UK Free Trade Agreement was enacted in May 2023.

The winery had been exporting to the UK for 25 years, but trade came to a halt in January 2020 when the UK withdrew from the European Union (Brexit).

In August this year, Capel Vale sent an order to the UK of 180 boxes (each box contains six wine bottles).

“It was just a small order to start with a mix of different wines – whites and reds and some additional samples,” says Zofja Urbanski, Capel Vale’s Procurement and Administration Manager.

“We’re hoping they will generate a return in terms of larger sales.”

A simple process

Urbanski worked with CCIWA’s International Trade team to ensure she had the required paperwork.

“They helped me make sure I had all the correct documentation, so we liaised over email to sort that out,” she says.

“Prior to Brexit we needed the VI-1 documentation (still required for EU exports) and the Certificate of Origin, which meant having to go through two or three different applications.

“The FTA has made the process much easier, requiring only one set of documentation to send through.”

CCIWA being WA-based and the UK accepting digital documents made the process much quicker, Urbanski says.

“Previously we were going through Wine Australia to issue our COs which is based in South Australia and we had to send it via post, but CCIWA being local means we don’t have to wait five days for the paperwork to be sent,” she says.

“And the UK has transitioned to e-copies of documentation which makes it much easier and faster to process, whereas other countries we export to are still hard copies only.”

Export a key part of the business

Capel Vale’s primary export markets include Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the UK. It has also previously sold to Indonesia, Thailand and the United States.

“We don’t sell to each region all the time but getting into those markets is the start and then hopefully the sales grow from there,” Urbanski says.

“It’s always good to diversify into different markets because it’s great for the different wine styles we have.

“Some of the Asian countries like the crisper whites, whereas it’s a lot easier to get Australian robust reds into the UK.”

Most of Capel Vale’s wine is sold domestically (80-85%), primarily in WA but also to the eastern states and Northern Territory.

Urbanski says as a “smaller winery, we are focused on quality over quantity”.

“We produce only about 300 tonnes of fruit every year across our vineyards and some small quality fruit sourcing. We process and bottle everything on site,” she says.

Depending on the variety, Urbanski believes the differentiation between Australian and European wine is what makes Australia’s product appealing to the UK and EU.

“The European style is a bit softer and not as full-bodied whereas some of the Australian wine is really heavy, rich and earthy. I think the point of difference is probably the most appealing part,” she says.

Plans for steady export growth

In the long-term, the business plans to increase its exports by 5-10% and still focus on the domestic market.

Urbanski hopes sales to the UK continue to grow steadily and other jurisdictions where the Federal Government is negotiating FTAs, such as the EU, are on her radar.

“The EU could be a region we look to exporting to if there’s a new FTA as it would certainly encourage sales to the region,” she says.

CCIWA’s International Trade and Investment Centre (ITIC) helps businesses reduce the time, cost and risk of going global. Contact the team for a free consultation on (08) 9365 7620 or via [email protected].

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