Strong dollar, private labels continue to squeeze Aussie winemakers

153-year-old Central Victorian winemaker Tahbilk has taken aim at cheap imports and private label brands for hurting local winemakers.

CEO Alister Purbrick said that house-brand wines were becoming a feature at independent retailers and not just stores owned by the Coles and Woolworths duopoly. Meanwhile, the persistently strong Australian dollar was making imported products more attractive.

''So you have got the double whammy of own-brand and imports taking space away from us, up go our promotional slot costs and there is less opportunity for us in any case,'' he told Fairfax Media.

Tahbilk’s domestic sales were down, and overall revenue declined from $13.675 million to $13.187 million. The CEO credited Tahbilk’s wine club with assisting the result while exports margins were squeezed.

''There is not a lot of margin in exports, so the best way to describe our exports at the moment is that we have them in a holding pattern,” he said.

“We are not going out aggressively to grow because we can't make margin out of it, but we want to maintain our presence in those markets.''

Recently d’Arenberg, another century-plus-year-old Australian winemaker, said their yearly result had been hit by the high dollar, with margins for exports whittled away massively by exchange rates.