Eddie McDougall’s career in the wine industry began in 2007 when he started working for the winery Clyde Park, in Bannockburn, Geelong region in Victoria. The chief winemaker of Eddie McDougall Wines and group CEO and star of the wine and travel show, The Flying Winemaker, talked to Inside FMCG about how his experiences in the Australian wine industry fuelled his passion to explore the international wine landscape.
Inside FMCG: Tell us how Eddie McDougall Wines began?
Eddie McDougall: I have always been very entrepreneurial and wanted to have my own brand of wines that I could take to the world. I started producing my own wines as a side project from my day job. My first wine under my own label was a small parcel of Sangiovese grown in the Alpine Valley. Following that, I expanded to other varieties and styles [such as] Pinot Grigio, Prosecco and Rosé just to name a few.
From humble beginnings of 100 cases of wines to now edging on 20,000 in cases, I am pretty happy as to how things are moving along. I only hope that one day we can work more closely with larger national retailers to increase the availability of our wines to wine lovers across Australia.
Inside FMCG: How do you select the best wines for Eddie McDougall Wines?
The selection of grapes that we use to make our wines is very simple. We choose the best regions for growing those grape cultivars, followed by the application of simple and honest winemaking. We want to make wines that are naked on the palate and perfumed on the aromas; we have nothing to hide, as we simply want to deliver pleasure in a glass.
Inside FMCG: How did The Flying Winemaker show come about?
I am hugely passionate about wine education, especially for wine novices and those keen to learn more about food and wine pairing. I figured the best way to fulfill this passion was to produce content in an energetic, lifestyle way that would entertain whilst educating. The main aspect I focused on for the show, was on the pairing of Asian food and wines; this is such a mystery for many wine lovers and novices out there.
The series was first picked up for global distribution by ABC Commercial Australia in 2013, then it premiered on Discovery Channel in 2014. Following the premier, distribution has seen it reach over 350 million viewers globally across multiple platforms such as Netflix and several inflight entertainment screens.
Inside FMCG: Tell us about your experience working with Australian wineries such as Giant Steps and Deep Woods Estate?
I have worked with several Australian wines, not just Giant Steps and Deep Woods Estate. Clyde Park, Shadowfax, O’leary Walker and Wood Park [to] just name a few others. I worked with these wineries either as a harvest winemaker or in a collaboration project where we created new brands and blends for my distribution channels.
Inside FMCG: Are there any other Australian companies you’re planning to collaborate with?
At this stage, not so much in the winemaking space. We plan to collaborate with major retailers, entrepreneurial communities, major Australian home grown brands, media companies and of course, the hospitality and hotel industry. There is another TV series in development with an Australian distribution partner but I can’t disclose too much at this stage.
Inside FMCG: What Australian wines are in demand in Asia?
In Asia, we are still seeing the usual big brands get plenty of presence in the major supermarkets and chain retailers however in the top end restaurants and bars I am noticing an appetite for Rosé produced from Margaret River and also some alternative style like Prosecco from the King Valley.
Inside FMCG: What did you learn while working in the Australian wine industry?
I learnt almost everything, it’s one of the best places to learn about winemaking. For the international business side of things, I definitely learnt this from personal experience and my business partners who are also my mentors.
Inside FMCG: Tell us about some of the wine trends we can expect this year.
Prior to all the coronavirus outbreaks I would have said Cava is on the rise but now with the situation as it is, I believe the trend, or should I say the “forced trend” will be an increase in domestic consumption. i.e. Chinese will drink less French and Australian wines and they will consume more Chinese made wines.