We sat down with Chris Thomas of Dowie Doole to get his insights on the industry and his top tips for success, technology, work-life balance and an amazing red carpet experience at the Cannes Film Festival. See vintrace at Booth 517 at Unified in Sacramento.
Can you tell us a little about your business and what you’ve been up to lately?
In the last 2 years we’ve purchased 79 hectares of new vineyard, and have taken control of a new 500 tonne winery. Which has meant we’ve had to implement a lot of new systems to the business, such as Vintrace which has been fantastic.
What are some of the challenges of running a successful business in today’s wine industry?
The challenge of the wine industry is also what makes it exciting, lots of diversity. Making multiple wines, having to keep your eye on wholesale, direct, and international sales, and meeting all the market demands. To do this you need to have a clear understanding of the process and the costs involved in the business, as without sales and a profit you won’t be an ongoing winery.
You’ve been using vintrace for almost 2 years, how has it benefited your business?
It’s given us a real time costing and we are now running the winery essentially live day to day at the winery. Everything from using the Vintrace app to scan barrels so I know exactly the parameters of the wine I am looking at any time. It’s allowed us to operate faster with a better understanding of our costs of goods. It gives us a clear picture from grape maturity through to sales analysis at the end. It’s a fantastic central truth for our wine business.
What role do you think technology plays in running a modern winery?
Technology plays a huge role, the use of smart phones, tablets etc to get data instantly and make real time decisions has allowed us to operate faster and without modern technology we couldn’t do that. I certainly couldn’t spend 4.5 months a year overseas without being able to jump of the cloud and look at all my information back in Australia.
You are an entrant in the Young Gun of Wine awards. What advice can you give to aspiring young winemakers?
Find a region you really love and want to make wine in. Start working in that region, get to know the community and get involved through community events. One of the first things I did was get involved with the McLaren Vale Wine Show committee, it allowed me to get to know so many people in the region and understand so much about what makes the region tick. It allowed me to become part of the community and better understand how we can promote McLaren Vale wine all across the world.
How do you manage work / life balance?
I try to mix work with pleasure. A good example is recently when I was overseas for work my wife and my two young kids came a met me in Hong Kong. We had a week’s holiday in Hong Kong then two weeks in Thailand. Work hard but then rest and relax with my family and make them a part of my wine journey as well.
Following your Instagram account we know you travel a lot. What’s been your strangest experience while overseas?
The most surreal experience was being a guest at Cannes Film Festival. Being able to walk the red carpet with starts such as Susan Sarandon and Claire Danes walking next to me. Definitely something I never thought could happen!
Some of the strangest experiences is eating some of the food across Asia, such as pig brains. Food I’d never thought I’d eat in my life. The scariest thing is that I actually really enjoy most of the crazy food!
Finish this sentence… without vintrace I ….
Couldn’t run my wine business whilst sitting by the pool on a family holiday sipping a cocktail!
Thanks Chris, we’ll drink to that! You can follow Chris on his Instagram account here.