Aussie agritourism, cubed

Australia’s food tourism industry is booming. Just ask fourth-generation winemaker Chester Osborn, who will open a new $A15 million facility dubbed the ‘d’Arenberg Cube’ at his family owned d'Arenberg winery in McLaren Vale, South Australia this weekend. 

“We continually look for ways to attract more visitors from both domestic and international markets and importantly focus on how we can create unique experiences across a number of different prices points,” Osborn, the group’s chief winemaker, says. 

"Ongoing investment in additional facilities and infrastructure is critical in keeping up with demand." - Chester Osborn

An idea conceptualised 14 years ago, the new building, which was partly funded by a $A2 million State Government Regional Development Fund grant, will include a tasting room, several bars, a fine-dining restaurant, private tasting rooms and state of the art facilities on each level.

“We think the Cube will help us gain an additional 100,000 to 200,000 visitors a year, while our local tourism authority believes this number could be as high as half a million,” Osborn says.

Over the past five years the number of agritourists visiting businesses in Australia has grown significantly.

According to Tourism Research Australia, between 2010-11 and 2015-16 the domestic tourists visiting wineries grew by 13 per cent a year on average, while international visitors increased by 8 per cent a year.

“We’ve seen an ongoing influx of Chinese tourists in particular, with over one million visitors arriving in Australia from China each year, a number expected to grow to three million by 2024,” Osborn said.

“This is only a few years away making ongoing investment in additional facilities and infrastructure critical in keeping up with demand. Our current restaurant and tasting room were full all year around so the time was right to expand.”

The opportunities for agribusinesses are substantial. According to a Deloitte Agribusiness Bulletin, in 2015-16, agri tourists spent $9.4 billion on their total trip. This includes domestic daytrip visitors ($A600 million), domestic overnight visitors ($4.1 billion) and international visitors ($A4.7 billion).

d’Arenberg’s d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant was one of the first established in McLaren Vale in 1996. According to d'Arenberg managing director Francis Osborn, the group employs some 130 people, which is set expand further with the opening of the cube. 

The region McLaren Vale boasts more than 40 restaurants, highlighting the importance of understanding consumer expectations for those competing for a share of visitors. 

“We’ve seen greater demand from the younger generation in particular, and we now offer a range of experiences from blending classes and tasting verticals to tours of the local region,” Chester Osborn says.

Simone Stella is a bluenotes contributor

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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