Other wine-producing countries must look at Australia's performance in the UK with a mixture of respect and envy. It now seems a matter of when, rather than if, the Aussies will sell one in every four bottles of wine we drink here. Think back 25 years to the days of Kanga Rouge and Wallaby White, when one well-known supermarket buyer said that wines from Down Under would "never catch on", and marvel at what the Australian wine industry has achieved.
Nor is it planning to rest on its laurels - or whatever the Australian arboreal equivalent may be. The recently published Directions to 2025 lays out a clear strategy for the next 18 years, with continued growth being the aim. How big can Australia get in the UK? Anecdotal evidence suggests that the category is approaching maturity, but the figures just keep growing ; 30 per cent doesn't seem out of the question by 2025.
Some competitors argue that Australia's success has been achieved on the back of hefty promotions, particularly by Constellation. There's an element of truth to this, although much of the discounting was a reaction to the large surplus of wine sloshing around in Australia, a situation that has eased with the drought-affected 2007 vintage, 30 per cent down on 2006.
Australia is making an increasing impression on the middle, £5- £10 market thanks to brands
such as Yalumba, Yering Station, Lindemans, Wolf Blass and Xanadu. Out of the mass -market brands, Jacob's Creek continues to be a model of consistency and integrity.
"It's true that we do promotions," admits Kirsten Moore, Wine Australia's regional manager, "but our sales by value are up and so is our average bottle price." Moore argues
the diversity message is "starting to sink in", with people "appreciating the regional differences and realising that Aussie wine is not just about price promotions".