As it expands its range of premium products from WA’s pristine South-West, Rare Foods Australia has signed a Heads of Agreement (HOA) with leading French company Winereef International (Winereef)  to trial patented bulk production methods.

Rare Foods Australia (ASX:RFA) has been making a splash in international abalone markets, with a string of record sales and revenue results over the past year. The company currently supplies about 20% of the world’s premium greenlip variety from its Marine Stewardship Council certified and globally unique abalone ranch as global demand for seafood rises.

Now, as part of its plans to expand its range of top-shelf sustainable and scalable products, RFA will start its trial with Winereef in early 2024 using wine sourced locally from vineyards in the Margaret River wine region.

News of the HOA coincides with the appointment of highly experienced beverage industry innovator Simon Hanley as RFA’s Sales & Marketing Manager for Ocean Cellared products.


On crest of a wave

The trial is expected to yield up to 13,000 bottles by July 2024. Cost and revenues will be split 50-50 between RFA and Winereef, and the trial will conclude at the end of January 2025.

Keeping the ocean cellared momentum rolling, the trial will get under way just after RFA’s current 2,300 “ocean signature” harvests from November 2023, with strategic partners Glenarty Road and Edwards wineries.

RFA and Winereef have agreed to then jointly commercialise an ocean cellaring business in Australia, depending on the trial’s success and approval to add to RFA’s Management and Environmental Monitoring Plan.


Sunken treasures

Ocean Cellaring is RFA’s process of maturing wine on the ocean floor within the company’s Flinders Bay lease at Augusta.

Successful trials in 2020 with Glenarty Road yielded wine of a unique depth of flavour that cannot be replicated on land thanks to the constant movement, pressure, light and temperature on the seabed.

After upscaling production of the original process, called Ocean Signature, RFA started a two-year process of investigating several alternative production methods that would be easily scalable as well as sustainable.

Winereef was chosen due to its patented approach to Ocean Cellaring which complements RFA’s current method and has strong potential to provide significant production of a premium wine range.


How it works

Based on the Basque coast of France, Winereef has developed and honed over 15 years its proprietary technology to cellar wine on a large scale. It now produces up to 200,000 bottles of wine a year from this  technology.

The founder, Emmanuel Poirmeur, created the method to allow wine to mature in the ocean where it undergoes a secondary fermentation process, which is enhanced by the marine environment, within patented vats attached to the seabed.

Once harvested, the vats are delivered directly for traditional wine blending, bottling, labelling, and packaging.



Key appointment for success

As part of its strategy to further scale up sales of premium, sustainable and locally grown products, RFA has welcomed Simon Hanley to its savvy Sales and Marketing team.

Now living back home in the local Margaret River wine region, Hanley has successfully developed and introduced to global markets more than 30 new innovative products over his career in wine, beer and beverages.

CEO Rob Jorden commented: “We’ve undertaken very detailed planning to devise a sales and marketing strategy to create the demand required to sell another premium offering with our Ocean Cellared products. We are delighted, after an extensive search, that Simon has decided to join our Sales and Marketing team to accelerate our pursuit of another innovative, sustainable, and scalable product. We wish Simon every success!”.



This article was developed in collaboration with Rare Foods Australia, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.