Meet this weeks #WeeklyCrush, Lucy Golding who with her husband Darren owns the hit Adelaide Hills destination winery, Golding Wines. Golding wines are known not only for their delicious cool climate wines, but for the experience they have created for their guests and the attention to detail at every point of contact with their brand. This is evident through the site’s immaculate landscaping, a tribute to the pair’s past lives in architecture and design, to the unique onsite experiences offered and even their approach to virtual relationships. To say Lucy goes the extra mile to make Golding Wines the beloved brand it is would be an understatement.
Learn as much as you can from Lucy, who generously shared everything from the story behind Golding Wines, authenticity online, creating an escape from reality, bush fires, engaging consumers outside the Cellar Door, Border Collie’s and more.
To find out more visit Golding Wines website, and check out all the destination winery has to offer from their onsite restaurant Gingko to unprecedented experiences (how does a degustation in a handwoven nest overlooking the Hills sound?).
See pictured above Lucy and husband Darren. “It was taken at an event we hosted at our cellar door that we hailed the ‘Marj Party’. It was a gathering of our friends and family where we hand labelled the first ever vintage of our traditional method sparkling “Marjorie”. It was an awesome evening to share with our loved ones and a few bottles of Marj were definitely enjoyed!”
Do you have a winery cat or dog? If so please send a picture and tell us about them.
This is Louis our much loved 6-year-old Border Collie. He is the chief customer relations officer and head of the greeting committee at our cellar door. He is loved by all of our visitors and a star performer on our Instagram page! He is always up for a ball chase in the cellar door gardens; he loves hanging out between the vines with the vineyard crew and receiving a tickle behind the ear from cellar door visitors. Basically he leads a pretty sweet life!
So Lucy, you and your partner in life and wine, Darren, put your first vintage into a bottle in 2002. What was it that led you to both decide that this was what you wanted to do, that is, produce cool climate wines in the Adelaide Hills for a living?
Darren and I both come from a background of architecture and design, whilst I was still working in the field Darren decided to join his parents in planting a vineyard in the Adelaide Hills. This was a natural decision for him to make after travelling through France for an extended time working in vineyards in the Loire Valley. After working to establish the vineyards in 1995 and designing and building the stone Barn that now houses our tasting room and restaurant, Darren and I eventually decided to release our own wines and created the Golding Wines label in 2002. Since that time we have purchased the property from his parents and built the wine tourism business that Golding Wines is today. We now have a 7 day a week wine and hospitality business taking in our tasting room, restaurant and functions business with a large garden and various wine experiences that people can enjoy.
What is it that gets people most excited when you tell them about Golding wines?
I think people know us for being quite innovative in the way that we approach our wine business. We very firmly see ourselves as a wine tourism operator and not just a wine producer so we have spent years developing our property into a destination venue for our visitors to enjoy. We have a food and wine experience called the ‘Nido Experience’ where a group of up to 6 people can book an afternoon in our human sized hand-woven nest and enjoy a 5 course degustation lunch with matching wines. This ‘nest’ sits on one of the highest points of our vineyard and has amazing views out over the Hills. That always gets people pretty excited!
If you are a Gamay lover, we are also one of the only producers in our region to grow and make a Gamay so we have bunch of loyal Gamay enthusiasts who get pretty excited when it is time to release a new vintage.
Your Cellar Door was built around your philosophy, “great wines taste even better when shared in beautiful surrounds.” What was your strategy to establish this and how do you get this message across to people in order to bring them to the Golding Wines Cellar Door in Lenswood?
Right from the very beginning Darren and I knew that we wanted to create a place at our property for people to arrive at and feel like they had escaped their everyday experience. When we thought about the places we had really enjoyed spending time in on our travels, the common theme was always a garden. For us it was not just about the wine we made, but what the experience would be like to be at our venue to enjoy it.
For us it was not just about the wine we made, but what the experience would be like to be at our venue to enjoy it.
By 2007 we made the decision to turn this dream into a reality, and we embarked on a large landscaping project to create terraces and garden rooms surrounding our stone barn, which we would soon be opening as a cellar door. Over the years since we have continued to develop new areas of landscaping for our guests to enjoy and the gardens have matured and thrived. With the arrival of social media and the ability to share images with our followers came the opportunity to showcase our gardens to a larger group of people and that has been a very powerful tool for us in drawing visitation to our cellar door. We have regular guests who return at specific times of the year to enjoy the either the autumn colour or the cool shade in summer. For them it is part of the Golding Wines experience, and equally enjoyable as sharing a bottle of their favourite wine at our place.
On the Wine Market…We asked Lucy to shed some light on her experience in the wine market, as a big part of what we do at Cellr is make true direct to consumer marketing easy for producers. Find out more here.
What other channels do you use to engage customers to buy your wine outside the cellar door? What do you do in these channels?
We have always recognised the value of direct to consumer sales, now more than ever in the current COVID environment, and therefore we have a strong digital marketing strategy and engage regularly with our database and our wine club members via email. We also engage with our followers on social media regularly. I strongly feel that social channels are an opportunity for authentic engagement and enabling an ongoing conversation with our followers, rather than an avenue for driving sales. But ultimately, if you are creating engaging content and facilitating a two way conversation, that is a relationship that could lead to future sales.
I strongly feel that social channels are an opportunity for authentic engagement and enabling an ongoing conversation with our followers, rather than an avenue for driving sales.
We have local and interstate distribution but the market is particularly challenging at the moment so these sales avenues have definitely taken a hit since COVID-19 changed the landscape so dramatically in March.
In what ways do you feel it is challenging to engage with customers?
We recognise that we are one of many in a crowded market place. Sometimes it does feel like it is hard to cut through and engage with customers when you could be seen as just another bottle on the bottle-shop shelf. For me it comes back to direct customer engagement and maintaining authenticity in every form of communication that we use.
Sometimes it does feel like it is hard to cut through and engage with customers when you could be seen as just another bottle on the bottle-shop shelf.
With wines we have produced since the bushfire interrupted our fruit supply chain, we have used QR codes on our packaging to provide the backstory for consumers. You have to keep thinking on your feet to make sure your engagement with customers is where you want it to be.
On Authentication and Supply Chains: We asked Lucy about her views on authentication and her current supply chain management. At Cellr we want to understand how producers feel about the current systems in place and make a packaging solution that is consistent with what they need. Find out what we do for brand protection and supply chain track and trace.
Talk to us about your supply chain, do you currently have visibility of your products after they leave the winery? What impact would having detailed data showing you where (in the world) and when your wine is being opened by the consumer?
Currently we don’t have visibility on our wines after they leave the warehouse to be shipped to consumers. This is not something we have ever really considered before but it would be very interesting to see how far they travel and how long they are stored for before people open them.
With the global explosion of wine fraud pushing into the mid/premium brackets due to sheer volume, how important is it for wine consumers to be able to identify your (legitimate) products via anti-counterfeit measures?
This is not something that we have encountered but it is certainly something that we all need to be wary of. I can only see benefits coming from consumers having the ability to identify the legitimacy of the products they have purchased.
Tell us a bit about V20 as a winery affected by the bush fires earlier this year...
Unfortunately V20 was not one to generate any favourite memories for us. Our vineyards were in the direct path of the Cudlee Creek bushfire that raged through the Adelaide Hills on December 20th last year. The fire destroyed 95% of our vineyards and incinerated all of our irrigation systems, infrastructure for several wine tourism experiences, tractors and machinery. Thankfully Darren and the CFS were able to save our houses, our stone barn, which is home to our tasting room and function space as well as the gardens that surround it. There was literally nothing that we could pick from our vineyard that wasn’t burnt or severely smoke tainted. For us V20 is one to forget! We are currently in the process of regenerating and restoring our vineyards back to their former glory and that will be an ongoing process for the next 3-5 years.
Your wine highlights how dynamic, and yet approachable, cool climate wines can be made. What are some cool climate wines that other Australian producers are making that you would recommend people get around?
There are so many great cool climate producers in the Adelaide Hills it’s hard to go past our own backyard when thinking about whose wines I love to drink! When it comes to varieties that shine in cool climate regions I think that Gamay is one to watch, along with Savagnin and the Austrian variety Grüner Veltliner. I’m a bit of a fan of the classics though and can’t go past a cool climate Chardonnay or Pinot. The Downer brothers from Murdoch Hill wines consistently produce knockout expressions of both varieties.
What is your favourite Golding wine? If you could share it with anyone, dead or alive, anywhere who and where would it be and why?
Asking that question is akin to asking me who my favourite child is (I have three)!
I have a few favourites in our range, but the second half of your question makes it easier for me to pick one. We produce a beautifully delicate traditional method sparkling called Marjorie, and we named that wine after my maternal Grandmother Marjorie Alice Payze. The current vintage is a 2011 and it shows some beautiful brioche characters from extended time on lees, while remaining crisp and fresh with citrusy aromas. Unfortunately Marjorie passed away just before I met Darren so she didn’t know that my future would take a turn and lead me into the wine industry. I would love nothing more than to sit down with her, overlooking the water in the coastal town of Pt. Lincoln where she lived and I grew up, and share a glass of Marjorie with her. We would have A LOT to catch up on and I think she would be pretty happy with her namesake sparkling.