Canberra is known for its vineyards and winemaking but there are three friends from the University of Canberra that have quietly gone about building a national and international vertically integrated wine business.
Based right here in Canberra is local business, Rogue Wines, a company that owns vineyards, wineries, production and distribution – a real wine company.
A real wine company that is taking on the large wine companies and through innovation,adaptability and a drive to bring quality wines to the market, that over delivers on quality for the price, has seen a unique local business grow and thrive.
Matt Farrah, Ant Moore and Simon Rees,the rogues behind Rogue Wines, are three mates who studied at University together,who decided to produce their own wine using the combination of their experiences and knowledge.
Matt, Ant and Simon, come from various backgrounds and core experiences. Matt Farrah draws experience from a successful and varied retail ownership background. Simon Rees is trained and experienced in Advertising and Marketing.
Of course the most important ingredient of producing high quality wines is the winemaker, that’s the domain of Ant Moore. He’s won plenty of awards and many say he is a maverick – combining traditional and unique winemaking techniques to produce exceptional wines.
“What makes us different, is that as a local Canberra business, we own our own vineyards in New Zealand, make wine in our own winery and distribute it ourselves direct from the source. This allows us to deliver high quality wines at great prices,” Matt said proudly.
Significant brands owned by Rogue Wines include: Pear Tree, Little Black Stone, Waihopai,Ant Moore Beachwood, Off Road, IL Posto Prosecco and Mr Smith.
The growth of Rogue Wines has meant that they now distribute wine, beers and spirits for a variety of outstanding producers from around Australia and the world including: Shaw Vineyards from Murrumbateman, Glendalough Irish Whisky (voted world’s best Irish whisky),Frenchman’s Cap from Tasmania and Spanish wines, La Multa and De Alto.
“Our wines come from all over Australia and New Zealand and through building our distribution business we now import wines and whisky from all over the world as well as distributing other company’s wines,” Matt explained.
In 1987, when Matt Farrah was 17 he moved to Canberra from Albury to study Business Administration at the University of Canberra (UC). After finishing he opened Campbell Liquor Discounts at the Campbell Shops.
“Running the bottle shop I learned about trading, respect, how to deal with people and the ins and outs of business – which I thrive on,” Matt said.
In 2002, after running the bottle shop for 10 years, Matt and a group of friends bought the Campbell shopping Centre.
They then bought the supermarket and renovated the shops and supermarket to bring up to the standard the locals expected and reopened the supermarket at Campbell IGA Express.
During this time Matt’s friend Ant Moore,who undertook Sports Studies at (UC), had opened a gym in Gladesville, Sydney.
Matt would frequently send his friend a case of mixed wine to enjoy at his leisure. After a while Ant realised he had a stronger passion for wine than running a gym and enrolled in a wine making course at Charles Stuart University.
And then worked for Hardies Wines in Mildura for a couple of years and then applied for the position of head wine maker at Isabel Estate in New Zealand’s premier wine making region, Marlboruogh.
“Two years later Ant rang me and said we should get into vineyards,” Matt explained.
Matt bought 100 acres in the Waihopai Valley in Marlborough, site unseen.
“When I got over there I thought it was so amazing we then bought another 200 acres.This went on for a couple of years until they had 700 acres of land planted with vines,” Matt said.
The Ants Nest Vineyard was born in 2004 and the third rogue, Simon Rees came aboard the wine train.
“When the GFC hit, the company that contracted our grapes, walked out and we were left holding 3500 tonnes of grapes,” Matt explained.
As they were already dabbling in wine making with Pear Tree, they decided to turn a disadvantage into an advantage and in 2008 built a vertically integrated wine business.
“We invested all of our money into a wine production and distribution business to get the wine to market. We that that if we grew, made and distributed our wine, we would control our own destiny,” Matt outlined.
“We called ourselves Rogue Wines because we were new to the industry and had a lot to learn, but because we had never done it before we built it our way and did things unconventionally.”
Rogue Wines grew quickly, initially from Matt selling $100,000 worth of wine in 2009 to hiring people in Queensland, NSW and Victoria and turning over $3 million in sales 2011.
Rogue’s initial clients were pubs, restaurants,wholesalers, liquor groups, charity group, special events, festivals etc – in fact anyone with a liquor license.
“Rogue was, and is, a fast moving company.We don’t need to have a board meeting to come to an arrangement that meets the needs of our clients. We have on-the-spot quick decision making processes,” Matt said.
Rogue Wines now have 12 staff and produce approximately 20 of their own wine labels and distribute another 20 labels. In addition to this they have also expanded into whisky and have taken on Glendalough Irish Whisky which has been awarded the best Irish Whisky in the world and best Irish single malt.
“Thanks to our great staff and distribution network we have currently exceeded our sales expectations by selling four times the volume Glendalough distillery expected,” Matt said proudly.
Rogue Wines are now looking at moving into their own warehousing and transportation,to control more vertical integration. Their first warehouse is in Melbourne and they are looking at expanding to each state with a strategic warehousing partner.
“We have been playing in international markets and are looking to expand to the US in a big way. We are already in the US but are going to ramp this up due to the massive demand of quality Marlborough wines,” Matt outlined.
The three rogues behind Rogue Wines;Matt, Ant and Simon, have big plans for the next decade.
“Over the next ten years our strategy is to continue to build tremendous relationships with our current clients, suppliers and industry specialists, to grow into a multi-faceted national,and international, beverage company, bringing high quality wines beers and spirits from all over the world to our clients,” Matt concluded.
Not bad for three mates that formed a Canberra company with a passion for wine.
B2B SPECIAL OFFER:
Any new client that arranges
to meet and takes on Rogue
Wines products will receive a free
case of wine to say thanks for