Breaking into a local market may seem like the easiest option for New Australian businesses, but McLaren Vale-based Manor Estate Wines found themselves facing a tough challenge at home. “Most Australians are happy to enjoy locally-made wines,” says Peter Cap, founder of the Manor Estate brand, “but they are more likely to support big brands that focus on mass-production. As a boutique winery, Manor Estate was able to form good relationships with dining establishments in search of high-quality wines, but found the consumer market much tougher to win over.”
However, the winery seems set to grow its local following after its success in the United States captured the imagination of locals. Peter Cap, whose name is now known to many Australians following his “Wine Secrets” documentary series, says that overseas recognition has won his business the home-country support he never expected to see.
“Aussie Underdog” Comes Out on Top in the Big Apple
With wine production in full swing and capacity growing, Peter Cap and his daughter, Sharleen decided to take on what may be the biggest challenge any winery could face: New York. “It was agreed that if Manor Estate could win over New York, our brand could succeed anywhere in the world,” explains Peter. “It’s a superior product – and marketing something one truly believes in and is invested in, is something that can be done with sincerity and passion that shines out far better than any normal sales pitch.”
The self-funded family expedition undertaken by Peter and Sharleen was to bring unprecedented success, even earning accolades from Wine Australia, whose support the Estate won while they were already active in the US. Top wine-bars and restaurants were the first to support the family-owned business and its wines, and top distributors that catered for a discerning clientele were soon to follow.
Then, the 2020 international health crisis hit, and it seemed that momentum would be lost in the wake of business closures, both temporary and permanent, and travel restrictions that limited Peter and Sharleen’s ability to form in-person relationships with prospective clients.
Secret Wine Garden Draws Visitors While US Success Inspires Club Membership
Even before the US adventure began, Manor Estate had already built a reputation for hospitality in McLaren Vale. Apart from welcoming guests to its hospitality business which featured the McLaren Vale location as well as a stately home with gracious gardens, Manor Estate had hosted wine-tasting and “wine experience” events. These “Secret Wine Garden,” and “Cellar Door” functions became more popular than ever before following hard lockdown. And the story of Peter, Sharleen, and their Zero to Hero adventure in New York soon captured the hearts and minds of those who heard it.
Along with an ever-growing stream of visitors through the imposing gates of Manor Estate, the winery’s wine club now saw exponential growth in membership. “Hearing the story, tasting the wine that made it happen – that turned out to be all that was necessary to start growing Manor Estate Wines’ local reputation,” says Peter Cap.
“At Manor Estate, the wine does the talking. Once people have tasted it, a great many of them want to sign up to our wine club for regular, free delivery of our best wines coupled with discounted prices and a slew of benefits for those able to visit McLaren vale for a wine experience hosted by Manor Estate.”
Overcoming Local Bias an Unexpected Bonus
In a wine-producing region, Manor Estate, a relative newcomer on the scene, struggled to gain the recognition its products deserved. But, after winning international awards and receiving votes of confidence from top names on the US wine scene, hometown success was to follow. With the Wine Secrets documentary drawing viewership, and an interesting story to tell, the Australian public began to take an interest – and as Peter says: “The wine does the talking after that.”