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- Ricky Ponting and his wife Rianna are launching Ponting Wines in the UK.
- Ponting Wines will be sold on the online grocer Ocado in a coup for the couple and the Australian wine industry.
- The deal follows the start of the Australia and UK trade deal which removes tariffs on alcohol.
- Ponting said he needs Brits to back him, knowing that customers can be sceptical about celebrity brands.
- Ponting’s favourite wine varieties are chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz.
London: He was the pantomime villain of the 2005 Ashes for English cricket fans, and now he’s popping up on TV screens to skewer English players in the current series.
So how can the man who smashed 2476 runs in 35 Tests against the old enemy England hope to sell his wine there? Especially when it’s priced at twice the cost Australian wines usually retail for in UK supermarkets.
Ricky Ponting’s wine will be sold in England.Credit: Tash Sorensen
Ricky Ponting says having his name on the wine label is both a selling point but also a potential drawback.
“The bigger challenge we’ve had is people thinking it’s just another celebrity brand, that we not fully committed and totally involved in what we’re doing. But it’s far from that – it’s the exact opposite,” he said during a phone interview in London, where he is commentating on the Ashes.
“We’re not playing a T20 game here, we’re playing a test match. It’s going to be a long, drawn out slow game at the end.”
In Ponting’s favour is the new Australia-UK free trade agreement, which removed tariffs on Australian wine. Another selling point? It might actually be good. This masthead has given his wines pretty good scores, especially compared to other celebrity wines.
With the capacity to produce half a million bottles per year, overseas expansion has always been a goal with two key markets in mind: the world’s other homes of cricket – Britain and the subcontinent.
As of May, Delhi Duty Free was stocking five Ponting Wines.
And this month, the UK online grocery retailer Ocado will start selling the Ponting First Session Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2022, Ponting Top Order Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2022, Ponting The Pinnacle McLaren Vale Shiraz 2021 and Ponting Langhorne Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2021.
Punter needs the Brits to take a punt on him. “I’ve been willing to do that my whole life, I need everyone else to do it with me as well,” he said.
The deal, facilitated by Austrade in London, means Ponting Wines will be some of the first to flow through to the UK following the Australia-UK trade deal. Partly due to the pandemic, the UK launch has made slow progress until now. And there is no guarantee that his name will lead to virtual placements in customers’ trolleys.
His wines will retail about double what the average Brit finds on their supermarket shelf, for example Yellow Tail, which costs £7.25 at Tesco. A Jacob’s Creek – long a stalwart of the British off-licence – might cost a little more, about £12.
“Any supermarket you go into in the UK you’ll find those exact brands,” Ponting said. “I’ve been walking into some of the stores just to see what’s on the shelf and those brands are front and centre and the ones you notice.
“Trying to bring a more premium brand into what’s already a pretty flooded market here in the UK presents its own journeys and its own issues, but we’re getting there, and we’ve got some good support now and things are going well.
“It’s just going to be getting our brand out there enough where people are willing to buy the first bottle and taste it because we know when they do buy the first bottle they’ll come back because what we’ve actually got in the bottle tastes great – the wine speaks for itself.”
Ponting didn’t grow up loving wine.
“Cricket culture was all about – have a sit down, have a couple of beers at the end of the day’s play,” he said.
The Tasmanian attributes his early drinking habits to his “wrong-side-of-the-tracks, housing commission upbringing”.
“It was very much a beer and a barbeque family environment that I had – mum and dad were never drinkers.”
His wife Rianna changed it all. “The first few dates we went on I was buying expensive bottles of wine to try and impress her, and then I started to enjoy it and that’s where this whole journey began.”
The “journey” culminated in the couple’s venture into winemaking, which they launched three-and-a-half years ago with luxury wine merchant David Krenich, formerly at LVMH, and the veteran South Australian winemaker Ben Riggs.
Ponting couldn’t say how much the company has turned over since its inception in 2019 and attempts to confirm the amount after the interview were declined.
“Profitable, yes. We’re not making squillions of dollars at the moment but being involved in such a great industry and learning a lot from great people along the way has been a lot of great fun.”
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