Some of the best Australian wineries, including Yalumba, Tyrell's and Tahbilk, have joined forces to promote their premium wines in key export markets.

Australia's First Families of Wine (AFFW), which groups together 12 of the country's most prestigious wineries, aims to combat the "negative image" that has developed around Australian wine abroad, Alister Purbrick, chairman of the group, told just-drinks today (18 August).

Marketing campaigns will initially focus on the UK, with "a range of activities" planned for the build-up to next year's London International Wine Fair, said Purbrick, a fourth generation winemaker and CEO of Victorian winery Tahbilk.

The 12 founder members intend to spend a combined A$600,000 (US$500,000) of their own money to promote premium Australian wine, including regional wines and varietals.
"I can't believe the amount of negative press there has been in recent months about Australian wine," said Purbrick, who said initial discussions on the formation of AFFW began in 2006. "The reality is we have wines that rival the best in the world."

Membership criteria for AFFW is strict and, aside from requiring high quality wine and family ownership, takes into account several factors, including environmental practices and number of generations the winery has been owned for.

Purbrick said: "Competing purely on price is not sustainable and is not a long-term competitive advantage. The AFFW will showcase the passion, quality and character of our wine brands that can compete against the world's best and win."

AFFW has the backing of both Wine Australia and the Winemaker's Federation of Australia.

The 12 founder members are as follows: Brown Brothers (Victoria); Campbells (Victoria); d'Arenberg (South Australia); De Bortoli (NSW); Henschke (South Australia); Howard Park (Western Australia); Jim Barry (South Australia); McWilliam's (NSW); Tahbilk (Victoria); Taylors (South Australia); Tyrrell's (NSW); Yalumba (South Australia).

Purbrick said the group is seeking more members and is particularly keen to recruit a winery in Coonawarra.