Meet the 2019 Fellow: Grant Scicluna

There is no denying the consumer thirst for alternative varieties. I observe it daily at Wine House Melbourne. The curious drinker wants a new experience as well as pleasure. However, this yearning has yet to fully infuse in the premium wine market’s high end, to whom an independent retailer like Wine House primarily caters.

My job is to help people discover and connect with wines. Over 15 years (10 of which I have been employed there), we have built a reputation as Melbourne’s destination store for fine wine, providing a well-curated offering of Australia’s best wines and giving unfussy, but informed, advice to wine lovers and collectors.

A large segment of our customers, though savvy and wine educated, are cautious. They are prepared to pay premium prices for wine, though by and large opt for classic or iconic wines. They rely heavily on third party endorsements, be it critical review, wine show accolades or my own authentic experience. As the AAVWS Fellow, I provide an opportunity to spread awareness and advocate for alternative varieties in this end of the premium market. Reaching this bastion may allow producers to command a deserving premium for new wines, which in turns ensures health and viability of wine businesses.

I am hungry to learn, discover and bring back the tastes and stories at the forefront of the alternative variety scene. As your Ambassador, my reach would be global, with customers purchasing from me throughout Australia, Asia and Europe. I have daily interactions with tourists who ask, “Which wines should I take home with me?”

I am also a WSET educator of new wine professionals. Here we discuss a myriad of varieties planted across the globe, indicating their viability and emergence locally. I also devise and run consumer tastings such as The Classics and the B Sides, where I take wine lovers through the most known red wine grapes and compare them to emerging ones.

I am passionate and excited for the future success of alternative varieties in Australia. I believe they satisfy a growing curiosity to ‘drink locally differently’, as well as respond pragmatically to challenges posed by climate change. Success is dependent on a clear path to all segments of the wine consuming public. Each conversation I have with student or wine buyers in the high end of the premium market is an opportunity to grow the desire for alternative varieties. I would be proud to offer that as the AAVWS Fellow.

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