Mildara Blass wants its Australian rivals to help it conquer the USA in a bid to build the success of "brand Australia".

Mildara's parent company Fosters bought Beringer in California for $2.6bn earlier this year in a deal widely seen as shifting the direction of Australia's largest beer and wine group.

According to Mildara the Americans at the Wine Australia 2000 exhibition in Melbourne this week have been raving about the deal but the Australians have yet to be convinced that Mildara, and Fosters, are heading in the right direction.

"Speaking to the Americans they think it is the greatest marriage of wine companies ever to happen but in Australia opinion has not been quite so strong," wine communication manager George Samios told just-drinks.

"I think people don't understand the fit yet so we have been getting a lot of questions asked about the deal although we still don't know how it will work out. But on paper it looks good.

"Brand Australia in the wine industry is so strong now and if everyone gets on that wagon the quicker it will go. The bigger wine companies have to be the ones to
lead the globalisation of Australian wines."

Both Cranswick and BRL Hardy are looking at US acquisitions and Mildara believes that the more Australians in America the stronger they will all be. But despite having pulled off one of the great wine industry deals this year the company has also been working to develop its own portfolio.

Mildara Blass launched a new wine called etc. at Wine Australia 2000. It is a 1999 Chardonnay that is being targeted at the hip young 20 - 35 year old market. The wine comes in a heavily designed orange bottle and Samios says he expects it to become a favourite at barbies and cafes.

Etc. is similar in concept to Hardy's Wicked Wines but Mildara has no plans at this stage to launch etc. internationally.

Mildara has also put considerable effort behind pushing Wolf Blass and will be launching TV ads next year.

Another wine brand that has seen heavy promotion is the Greg Norman range. Norman took time out from the Australian Open last week to appear at Mildara's stand at Wine Australia 2000 to promote the wine. Mildara says it has no plans at this stage to offer other celebrity endorsed products.