Alcohol abuse in indigenous communities within the Northern Territory and Western Australia has been an ongoing concern for decades.
Late last month, an article regarding this issue was published, and Calabria Family Wines was mentioned by name.
While no direct link between the abuse and the Riverina winery was established, for the average reader – merely mentioning a name – conclusions and assumptions may readily be drawn.
The Area News spoke with Sales and Marketing Manager Andrew Calabria to find out how the company responded to the article and how they intended to dispel the negative mentality one might form after reading it.
Mr Calabria said he was initially “caught off guard” as the article was brought to his attention.
“It was quite a surprise,” Mr Calabria said.
"Coming from left field, it caught us a bit off guard.”
Mr Calabria also noted his surprise at a wine product being mentioned in the article.
“There’s a lot of chatter about alcohol related to domestic violence and new rules being introduced in the NT and WA, and there is a push for change – or a shift away, not just in wine but all alcohol labelling regulations.
“I expected the media attention has picked up – or the awareness has picked up – for the anti-alcohol regulations.”
He said that the company sees wine and food as an important part of what they do, and that wine in general “shouldn’t be in the same category as hard spirits and beer.”
Calabria Family Wines products are sold through wholesale across Australia, which includes Northern Territory as well as every other state and territory in the country.
But, Mr Calabria noted that they don’t produce cask wine.
And, while he didn’t appreciate the company being mentioned in an article relating to violence, Mr Calabria acknowledged that there was no direct link made between his company and the violence reported.
“It’s not really highlighting the product as responsible,” he said.
Mr Calabria said the company fully supports responsible service of alcohol – “we don’t encourage irresponsible drinking of alcohol by any means.”
“To try and link our products to someone acting out – it’s unfortunate.”
“If it was something that was printed every day, it would be quite upsetting, but we’re treating it as an isolated article at this point.
Mr Calabria said the company has not received any backlash due to the article and that they are working together to make sure wine isn’t isolated or singled out as responsible.
“But, if we’re to be mentioned in articles, it would be courtesy to receive the opportunity to speak.
“Still, really it was a weak link.”
The company isn’t looking to respond to the article and instead aims to continue producing quality wine and maintain that standard which makes them the name they are in the industry.
“We know our business, we know our target audience, and we know where we want to go as a winery – as a premium winery,” Mr Calabria said.
“We focus on quality, we rely on accolades and awards to highlight our quality and help promote our wines.
“We’re not going to dwell too much on being mentioned in the article,” he said.
He has however noticed a lot of media attention surrounding wine and wine labelling.
“One thing we’re seeing is back labelling information having to change,” he said.
“And there’s a push for higher taxes on wine, which will definitely affect commercial wine; the backbone for a lot of industry here in the Riverina.
“The main focus I look at is that we don’t want to destroy our industry based on this anti-alcohol movement, because it can either price us out of the market and we’ll be overly taxed; lose volume – losing volume in the region is detrimental to wineries and growers because we are a large-scale producing region.
“That’s the bigger problem we’re sort of facing as a winery and as an industry.”
Mr Calabria said the company is looking to protect what they have in the industry to prevent losing the stories and the history of wines.
“The last thing that I would like to see is plain-packaged wine.”