John Casella, Casella Wines

“The story began in 2001 in the United States, the land of opportunity. In that short period not only has Australia surpassed France to take the number two spot on the import charts, but much of that growth can be attributed to a single brand: Yellow Tail. An astounding 36% of Australia’s wine exports to America belong to a brash upstart, which is now the most widely sold brand in country.

The astounding growth, which skyrocketed within five years of its launch to achieve $621 million in the sales, has led the charge to an entire category of wine brands. Following Yellow Tail, with its brightly labeled kangaroo, the critter wine phenomenon has resulted in a dizzying array of labels. According to Nielsen’s market research, more than 400 such new wine labels were introduced into the United States market between 2003 and 2006, but none of has been nearly as successful.

Bill Deutsch, chairman of Yellow Tail’s importer in the United States, W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Ltd also deserves credit for his vision to represent fine wines from family-owned producers around the world, to sell these wines to the trade with well-planned marketing support and to offer these wines to American consumers at fair prices. His company’s values rest on the “Five P’s” model for building brands: People, Product, Package, Price and Promotion. As Bill says, though, the “P” of People always comes first. In the case of Yellow Tail, that person was John Casella. In 1994, he returned to the family winery as managing director. At this time Casella Wines was mainly involved in the production and distribution of bulk wine. John, too, had a vision for the family winery and with this vision along with motivation he began to produce and brand his own labeled wine, taking the company from a crush of 200 tons in 1994 to 20,000 when he began to think about Yellow Tail. The two then met and the rest is history, history that is still being written.”