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Andrew Cameron – Deja vu Wine Co

My business partner Peter Crannage, and I, have been in the wine business for a long time and first met in 1997 when we were shareholders of a fine wine distribution company called Wine Source which was sold to Evans and Tate in 2004. For three years following the sale we continued to run the business, but ultimately decided that it was time to move on, and we started a new business called Deja vu Wine Co.

The name itself came from our mutual love of the music, and for the band Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and their album Deja vu.

In September 2007 we launched Deja vu Wine Co, and over the years have reshaped the portfolio to ensure that it is balanced, and continually relevant for the Australian market, and we commenced selling the Deja vu Sake Co portfolio in July 2012.

Yukino and I have been together for nearly 20 years now, and during that time we travelled extensively to Japan. Yukino also has extensive experience in sales and marketing in both wine and fashion, having worked previously with Helen Kaminski, Rosemount and Southcorp. We both love Sake, and particularly love the culture surrounding it – and felt that it was a hidden treasure, and that Australians would embrace it if they could access and understand it. The challenge was that no one really knew much about Sake in Australia.

We believed that Sake should to be treated like wine in terms of how it was sold and consumed, and we could therefore access the market with distribution and sales through Deja vu Wine Co, however we also realised that there was a need to educate, and create awareness and understanding of the Sake category and its culture, so we established Deja vu Sake Co to focus on this, and Yukino has done an amazing job of doing this and running the Sake Co.

While Sake was already available in Australia – it was generally only available via Japanese food wholesalers who were dealing directly with Japanese restaurants, and was very hard to find premium sake in the retail segment.

The initial challenge for us was convincing Sake producers in Japan that Sake should be sold like wine in Australia – with a focus on developing the category and introducing a range of Sake brands that better represented the wide breadth of quality sakes available in the Japanese market. We believed wine drinkers would understand, appreciate and enjoy Sake, and it was this market segment that we wished to focus on.

Together, Yukino and I were able to use our wine knowledge and experience, along with our love of Sake to convince the Japanese Sake producers that it was worth the risk. Initially we were not given any brands exclusively, this was to come once we had we proved ourselves. We started with five Sake brands and have steadily grown that over the years and now represent 12 incredible brands in the Australian market exclusively (including the 5 original brands that we started with).

Today we are approached constantly by Japanese producers that would love to be represented by Deja vu Sake Co in Australia, but as with Deja vu Wine Co, we are focused on ensuring that our portfolio is balanced – and represents a comprehensive selection of quality sake at various price points. As with wine, there are a range of Sake styles that are the result of different brewing and fermentation techniques, types of rice and growing conditions in different areas of Japan.  Our portfolio is aimed at enabling Australians to experience Japanese Sake as you would be able to do in Japan.

We’ve purposely created English back labels to help provide essential information about each Sake for consumers to more easily understand. We also hope that when consumers see our Deja vu Sake Co brand on the back label, they know they will be drinking an excellent quality Sake, or indeed any other Japanese beverage that we have more recently started to import, including Whisky, Gin, Shochu, Umeshu and Yuzushu etc.

Andrew in Kyoto in 2017 for the celebration of Yukino’s Sake Samurai award, seen here being served Sake by traditional Geiko.

My business partner Peter Crannage, and I, have been in the wine business for a long time and first met in 1997 when we were shareholders of a fine wine distribution company called Wine Source which was sold to Evans and Tate in 2004. For three years following the sale we continued to run the business, but ultimately decided that it was time to on, and we started a new business called Deja vu Wine Co.

The name itself came from our mutual love of the music, and for the band Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and their album Deja vu.

In September 2007 we launched Deja vu Wine Co, and over the years have reshaped the portfolio to ensure that it is balanced, and continually relevant for the Australian market, and we commenced selling the Deja vu Sake Co portfolio in July 2012.

Andrew Cameron – Deja vu Wine Co

Yukino and I have been together for nearly 20 years now, and during that time we travelled extensively to Japan. Yukino also has extensive experience in sales and marketing, having worked previously with both Helen Kaminski, Rosemount and Southcorp. We both love Sake, and particularly love the culture surrounding it – and felt that it was a hidden treasure, and that Australians would embrace it as well if they could access and understand it. The challenge was that no one really knew anything about Sake in Australia, and it was very hard to find premium sake.

We believed that Sake needed to be treated like wine in terms of how it was sold and consumed, and we could therefore access the market through Deja vu Wine Co, however we realised that we needed to educate and create awareness and understanding of the Sake category, so set about starting the Deja vu Sake Co to look after this, and Yukino stepped into the role of running the Sake Co.

While Sake was already available in Australia – it was generally only available via Japanese food wholesalers who were dealing directly with Japanese restaurants.

The challenge for us was in convincing the Sake producers in Japan that Sake should be sold like wines in Australia – with a focus on developing the category and introducing a range of Sake brands that better represented the wide breadth of quality sakes available in the Japanese market. Up until this point in time, Sake was being treated like a spirit in other markets – rather than its own category.

Together Yukino and I were able to use our combined skills and love of Sake to convince the Japanese Sake producers that it was worth the risk – but none of them gave us their brands exclusively until we proved ourselves. We started with five Sake brands and have steadily grown that over the years and now represent 12 incredible brands in the Australian market exclusively (including the 5 original brands that we started with).

We get approached constantly by Japanese producers now that would love to be represented by us here in Australia, but like with our wine business, we are focused on ensuring that our portfolio is balanced – and represents the broad range of quality sake’s at various price points. We don’t want to stock everything – just a balanced selection of the best Sake’s available. As with wine, there are a range of Sake styles that are the result of different brewing and fermentation techniques, and growing conditions in different parts of Japan.  Our portfolio is aimed at enabling Australians to experience the full range of Japanese Sake available.

Our job is not just to make those Sake’s available – but also to provide education to ensure people understand the extraordinary Sake culture.

That process takes time. Even the pronunciation of the various types of Sake can be difficult. We’ve purposely created English back labels to help provide essential information about each Sake to consumers. So, if you turn to the back label of a Sake and see our Deja vu Sake Co brand – you’ll know that you’re in safe hands, drinking an excellent quality Sake.

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