Ask yourself if you have the energy, confidence and entrepreneurial smarts to bring your vision to life?
Winemaker, University of Adelaide alumnus David Bowley proves you can; which is why he’s such an inspirational Ambassador for the ThincLab community.
David is the founder of boutique Adelaide Hills-based winery Vinteloper.
Producing David’s artisan reds and whites in small batches using locally sourced fruit, and featuring his wife Sharon’s stunning hand-illustrated artwork on most labels, the business has grown steadily since its establishment in 2008.
After bottling just 250 dozen in its first year, Vinteloper has increased that figure to 6500 dozen in 2017, and now exports to the UK, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sweden.
What’s more, the brand has built a loyal and enthusiastic base of customers—or “Kinfolk”, as David affectionately calls them—along the way; and all with the majority of offerings priced upwards of A$40 a bottle and no presence in mass-market retail chains.
The secret, says David, has been staying true to what he and Sharon want out of life, and building a business and brand that authentically reflects and communicates it to like minded people.
“I studied winemaking (B. Ag Science (Oenology), 2002) because I yearned for a non-traditional job. I wanted to escape being stuck in an office behind a desk. But in the first few positions I had, that was 90 per cent of what I did.
I realised that if I wanted the freedom I craved I’d have to create it myself.
David’s vision for Vinteloper was never simply to make wine, but to improve the lives of those who drink it.
“We do this in two not-so-obvious ways,” says David. “The first and most important is we enable ‘grown-up fun.’ The wine we make and the fun we have doing it exists around the good times life has to offer.
“The second is through the values with which we approach our world, and the presentation of our brand. We express this combination on our website as being ‘fun on the outside and serious in the bottle.’”
The venture hasn’t been without its challenges, however, David hastens to add, almost every dollar made has been reinvested back into the business. “I’ve personally only drawn a ‘wage’ once, and for a very brief period!”
But reward is most definitely coming. Vinteloper is now primed to enter three of the largest international markets for Australian wine—China, the US and Canada—and in late 2017 will open its own Adelaide Hills cellar door.
As we’ve grown, our customers have become increasingly interested in hanging out with us and experiencing some of our day-to-day life. So the cellar door’s a really important next step on our journey.
No-doubt it will also deliver an important new raft of insights for all ThincLab tenants fortunate enough to follow in David’s footsteps.