Meet Sally Cope, manager of Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia

Sally has worked in tourism for her entire career. Before Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia, she was the Director of Sales and Marketing for Anthology, the Travellers’ Collection – a specialist tourism management business that successfully operated several nature-based tourism assets throughout Australia.

Prior to that, she worked for Voyages Hotels and Resorts, and Qantas Holidays and Travel 2 in London.

Just over four years ago, she was approached to take over the management of Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia.

Cope says, “The opportunity was immediately compelling. I am a wine traveller. I love spending time in our wine regions, meeting the people behind the labels, exploring the regional towns and tasting great wine and food. Plus there’s something special about staying in the vineyards.

“This role [Executive Officer] presented me with a unique opportunity to apply my years of tourism experience to a whole new industry. At first I was concerned that I was not a wine expert, but the company’s Board of Directors made it very clear that they needed someone with a tourism background to manage the business and guide the wineries into a structured tourism marketing and distribution strategy.

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Cope’s role covers all aspects of managing the business. Her team manage everything from visitor experience development, trade contracting and distribution, marketing and promotions. The wineries in the collection treat Cope and her team as an extension of their existing sales and marketing team, but with a focus on tourism and driving high value visitors to their cellar doors.

When it comes to her favourite places to visits, Cope says that asking for a favourite wine region is too tough.

She says, “I like different wines and places for different reasons. My palate favours chardonnay and pinot noir. I have been spoilt by the people I have met and worked with at our wineries who have shared so much of their knowledge of wine. In recent years I’ve learned a lot by osmosis, through listening to conversations and opinions while tasting some of the most sensational wines in Australia.”

Lately Cope has been working on a project to create a series of short videos that tell the Ultimate Wine Experiences Australia story, explain what is different about it and hopefully serve to inspire more visitors.

Cope says, “There is so much depth and diversity of experience across our collection. This has been a fun project, unlocking some of the stories and revealing the characters behind the labels.

With over 100 published, pre-bookable winery experiences now being distributed via a global network of ITO’s, wholesalers, retail travel agents, online travel agents, specialist group tour operators, concierge companies and business event organisers, Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia has placed Australian food and wine experiences at the forefront of itinerary building.

“The wineries in our collection are not simply venues to taste and purchase wine. Most of them offer a complete tourism experience – restaurants, accommodation, tours, as well as exciting behind the scenes winery experiences. They allow visitors to interact with the product, the winemaker and enjoy first-hand, the rich diversity that our many wine regions have to offer. For really interested visitors, this is the appeal. In every case the experience is very relaxed and down-to-earth, which I think reflects the unique Australian nature of our wine experiences,” she says.

As far as industries go, Cope says her role presents the perfect cross-over.

“I love both the wine industry and the tourism industry. Both industries tend to attract passionate and interesting people. The high quality of Australia’s fine wines belie the down-to-earth nature of the people in the industry. I’ve made some good friends,” she says.

Looking ahead, Cope says she is keen to support Australia’s wine industry as confidence in the tourism opportunity grows.

“There is definitely a market demand for the exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences we offer. I’d like to think that our efforts at Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia are creating awareness and growing the market,” she says.

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For more information about Sally Cope, or Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia, visit www.ultimatewineryexperiences.com.au, connect on Instagram, Facebook, or connect with Cope on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/sally-cope-1575a817/).