A celebrated Australian winemaker is breaking into the largely untapped North African market, having secured an import license for Morocco.
Coonawarra winemaker Gavin Hogg and his business partners have also established a warehouse in Morocco, and are working with two local distributors before sending the first shipment in March.
Hogg said the Hoggies Estate Wines shipment would be a range of wines from his three brands – Kopparossa, Hoggies and Olivia.
He said he and his colleagues had invested a lot of time and effort to procure a licence to import alcohol into Morocco.
“The first lot will be a container, which is 1000 cases and that will be mixed. It’ll be a bit of a scattergun approach to show everyone what’s there and then see how the market responds,” Hogg said.
“The current availability of wine is pretty limited – it’s French, French and French, so I just thought ‘this is another frontier’.”
Known as the Gateway to Africa, Morocco is part of a group of fast-growing nations described as “African Lions”.
The Australian Government announced in November it would establish an embassy in the Moroccan capital Rabat in late 2017 or early 2018 for the first time. Previously, the Australian Embassy in France was responsible for Morocco.
Morocco is an Islamic country of 35 million people, where about 95 per cent of the population are Muslims.
“It’s probably the most liberal Islamic country in the world – there are bars and hotels, liquor stores and there’s 10 million tourists that go into Morocco each year and 80 per cent of those drink,” Hogg said.
“There’s probably about 10 million people in Morocco who are drinking at any one time so we tend to think if we can get five per cent of that market we’ll be going pretty well.
“We’ll establish our labels first and then there will be some people over there who say ‘I know of some other Australian wines, can you bring those in’ and we can act as a conduit.”
Hogg was one of the most senior winemakers at Mildara-Blass in the 1980s and ‘90s where his wines won dozens of Australian and international awards, including the coveted Jimmy Watson Trophy with Jamieson’s Run in 1989. He planted his own vineyard in the Coonawarra region of South Australia with his wife Julie in 1992.