Matt Farrah is diverting Canberra wine lovers away from expensive brand names and surprising them with unknown, boutique labels that are just as good – if not better – but don’t come with the hefty price tag.
Having been involved in the industry since 1992, starting in liquor retail before developing 800 acres of vineyard in Marlborough, New Zealand in 2003, and later starting Pear Tree wines, Matt knows his stuff.
He’s worked with winemakers, distillers and breweries all over the country, and he knows just how much passion and hard work goes into making the perfect drop.
But, he also knows how difficult – and expensive – it can be for smaller operators to get their product on shelves, no matter how good it is.
That’s why, two years ago, he decided to start his own business, Farrah’s Liquor Collective, offering an opportunity for smaller producers to get their product out into the marketplace without the overheads.
“I was working with so many amazing winemakers, distillers and brewers for many years and saw how tough it was for them going up against the major players,” Matt said.
“I wanted to help them get their products to market, and I thought ‘there’s got to be a better way’.
“It just dawned on me one time that if I open a one-stop-shop offering storage as well as retail and wholesale delivery – and now online as well – we could cut out the supply chain costs.”
From that fleeting idea, Farrah’s Liquor Collective was born and is now supporting between 150 and 200 boutique producers, as well as small local importers, facilitating the distribution of their products to restaurants across Canberra.
Matt says the wholesale business is going great guns, with many labels appearing on beer and wine lists throughout the city.
He says the retail side is also growing, with Canberrans discovering the hidden gems in his shop, from high-quality beer and wine to boutique spirits such as truffle gin, caramel vodka or coffee rum.
Matt says he can offer “incredible products” at the best possible price by cutting out the middle man.
“We’ve had some serious wine lovers that have been really surprised by some of the wines we have in the shop,” he said.
“They are a bit hesitant at first, because they don’t recognise the labels, but once we find out the style of wine they like and give them a taste, they’re blown away by the quality and the price.
“We have five tasters and everything that we sell has to pass our quality assurance panel so that we only sell delicious, well-crafted products.
“We’ve had people walk in to buy one bottle and, after tasting the wines, they end up walking out with three cartons – they’re that good.”
He says the staff know their product and walk around with customers to find the style of beer, wine or spirit they prefer.
“We’re building really good customer relationships, and people are now trusting us and going with the wines we recommend for them,” he added.
Matt has ruffled some feathers in the industry by offering award-winning products at such low prices, often more than 40 per cent cheaper than similar varieties.
“People can’t believe how inexpensive and brilliant these wines are,” Matt said.
“Wine lovers are picking up a $40 bottle of wine for $9.60, and they think it’s awesome!”
Matt and his team are looking forward to putting on a few post-lockdown celebration events to thank their customers for their support during the COVID-19 restrictions.
He said customers that spend $200 or more online will go into the draw to win a private tasting experience for themselves and 19 friends.
“We’ll put on an after-hours spread and they can come and have some food and sample the wine, beer and spirits from our producers.
“What a great way to celebrate the end of lockdown and the start of summer with your mates.”
To place your order or find out more about the boutique produce on offer, check out Farrah’s Liquor Collective’s online store.