• Soul Growers head winemaker Stuart Bourne. Soul Growers was one of the recipients of Naked Wines' Stop the Squeeze initiative.
    Soul Growers head winemaker Stuart Bourne. Soul Growers was one of the recipients of Naked Wines' Stop the Squeeze initiative.
  • Naked Wines managing director Alicia Kennedy.
    Naked Wines managing director Alicia Kennedy.
  • Byron & Harold cofounders Paul Byron and Harold (Ralph) Dunning. One of the recipients of the Stop the Squeeze initiative by Naked Wines.
    Byron & Harold cofounders Paul Byron and Harold (Ralph) Dunning. One of the recipients of the Stop the Squeeze initiative by Naked Wines.
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Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) wine company Naked Wines has announced 11 recipients of its Stop the Squeeze fund, set-up in response to China-imposed tariffs on the industry.

In December 2020, China imposed taxes of up to 212 per cent on Australian wine which it set for a five-year term. China’s commerce ministry said it was an anti-dumping measure, alleging Australia was selling wine below cost. 

Naked Wines managing director Alicia Kennedy.
Naked Wines managing director Alicia Kennedy.

Naked Wines managing director Alicia Kennedy said the impact on wine makers was immediate. “For independent winemakers who are already operating on small margins and being constantly squeezed by big bottle major supermarket chains here in the domestic market, it has the potential to be a slow death to their businesses,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said roughly 15 per cent of its local independent winemakers, plus a much larger ecosystem of growers, bottlers, employees and community, would be affected by the tariff hikes, with Australia’s independent winemakers likely to be the most impacted yet least resourced to manage the impacts.

In response, Naked Wines launched its Stop the Squeeze campaign, which included a $5 million rescue fund to offer independent winemakers a new home to sell their best wines at a fair price, with direct connection to Naked Wines’ network of more than 100,000 local and over 750,000 global customers.

The company said it was the only lifeline of its kind for the independent industry, with the rescue fund and also an ongoing business pledge; to honour all commitments to its winemakers, not to drop contracts, commit to delivering fair prices to winemakers and customers.

Fund recipients were: 

  • Soul Growers 
  • Byron & Harold 
  • Calneggia Family Vineyards 
  • Arakoon Wines 
  • Pyren Vineyard 
  • Trifon Estate 
  • The Engine Room
  • Schwarz Wine Company
  • Grounded Cru
  • Tomich Wines and 
  • Two pairs. 

Pyren Vineyard winemaker Leighton Joy said: “When China announced the tariffs would be here for five years it forced our business and the wider industry to take a reality check, and because of the instability in the market, we went back to square one with what the future might look like.”

Joy said the funding meant that rather than hitting a dead end there was still the ability to engage in important projects which were prospects of sustainability and stability for the business.

“If Australians want to see a truly local and diverse wine industry, then they need to step up and support it with ways that truly support independent winemakers. Such as going direct to the producer’s cellar door or buying online through direct-to-consumer business models, so as much profit as possible can be passed on to the winemaker,” said Kennedy.

All receipient who are part of the fund are in a contract with Naked Wines, with their wines available through the group until the end of October. 

Stop the Squeeze also raised more than $329,000 for Australian winemakers and their rural communities devastated by bushfires.

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