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Taking Wine to the People
Selling wine direct from the winery is a cornerstone of the modern Tyrrell’s operation, and the side of the business with which Bruce Tyrrell grew up. As a young boy, Bruce displayed an aptitude for numbers. Murray harnessed these talents at cellar door, and Bruce’s first significant role with the company was looking after takings and dealing with customers. It was 1960, Bruce Tyrrell was nine years old and his father was ill. “Mum drove me up to the winery, and on my own I took 60 quid – all of it on fortified wine. Business was slow in the early ‘60s. On a Saturday, dad would literally plough and look after cellar door at the same time. From 1966, the place started to go, and then there was no stopping it,” Bruce says.
There was no magical event in 1966, it was purely the result of Murray Tyrrell’s hard work and characteristic common sense.
“In those days, there was no real wine trade, and the only way to sell wine was to get people to the winery. And that’s what my father did – he invited them.”
Bruce, with his sister Ann and mother Ruth would spend days on end with the telephone directory, sending out letters of invitation to visit Tyrrell’s Wines in the Hunter Valley. From the original invitations, visitors began to flow through the doors, and a mailing list was built from the happy customers eager to hear more about – and buy – Tyrrell’s wines. Bruce took the invitation concept a step further, and created Australia’s first wine direct mail order system, the Private Bin Club, bringing Tyrrell’s wines to an entirely new market. The mail order system created a line of communication between wine producer and consumer that had never been tried before.