10 minutes with Pinnacle Drinks’ Maxine Haywood


Making aspirational wine accessible to premium wine drinkers in an overcrowded market poses an interesting challenge.


Working with Because and celebrate the ATL launch to promote Chris Ringland Shiraz, we spoke to Pinnacle Drinks Marketing Manager, Maxine Haywood.

rsz_chriswine (1)

Starting at the beginning, what attracted you to working in the wine industry?

I have a degree in Agricultural Science and worked in the industry for a few years before heading off travelling. While I was in the UK I toyed with the idea of working in wine and landed a job as a wine buyer for a pub group – a lot more exciting than my first job of selling horse and animal feed!

At the time I had very little wine experience but they took me on because they wanted someone with a fresh perspective. Interestingly it was also a time when New Zealand and Australian wines were growing in popularity around the world, whilst in the UK, pubs were having to become more food and wine focused to market themselves to couples and families.

You look after a premium wine portfolio at Pinnacle Wines, what are some of the challenges facing those marketing premium wines?

The wine industry and, in particular, the premium wine industry, is a very busy market place. The challenge of an overcrowded market like this is that there’s lots of small producers at the premium end of the scale so it’s quite hard to distinguish your brand. How can you differentiate your $30 Barossa Shiraz

You’re working with Because on the ATL campaign to promote Chris Ringland Shiraz. What’s the inspiration behind the concept?

Barossa Shiraz is the biggest selling varietal in Australia, so the challenge is how do you take a well-established brand like Chris Ringland and showcase its differences?

We know that premium wine drinkers are more interested in wine as a subject, where their wine comes from, and also the experience of drinking the wine. We knew that Chris Ringland is an artisan of great food, flavour and wine. Early on, he established a stellar reputation for his Shiraz, including acclaim from wine critics and a great pedigree in working with brands like Rockford that have always been the pinnacle of Barossa Shiraz. It was something that he could be the face of whilst also being true and authentic about it too.

Do you have any tips for taking a highly acclaimed product like Chris Ringland’s CR Shiraz and making it accessible yet still aspirational?

I think a lot of it is down to distribution. You’ll need to match your product distribution to the right places so that the product is where premium consumers are buying. The Australian liquor chain, Dan Murphy’s is probably the biggest seller of Chris Ringland products and is regarded by consumers as a premium wine destination – so it’s perfect for this.

Another important factor is style and more specifically making a style that consumers like. There’s no point in having beautiful packaging and making award winning wine if it’s not something that’s drinkable and the style doesn’t fit in with what the consumer is looking for.

Keren Dobia is the award-winning portrait photographer who captured Chris. Tell me why she was selected?

Keren’s work and in particular the emotion she captures in her photographs really stood out, and the detail and character shines through in her portraits. This storytelling style of portraiture along with her elaborate set designs is perfect to tell Chris’s story.

Any tips for those looking to embark on a career working in the marketing of wines?

Yes…don’t feel like you have to know everything about wine before you try out for it.

The large majority of wine consumer marketing is down to everyday experiences and common sense. What would you or your friends and family think about the wine? How do they make decisions on the products they’re buying? A lot of it is intuitive. So, if you’re interested, educate yourself and give it a go.

Quick fire questions

1) Favourite wine region? Rhône wine region in France. I learnt about wine in Europe and so my introduction and love for the industry was built on European wines

2) Where do you go for inspiration? Nowadays I get my inspiration from anywhere and everywhere – travel, clothing, something that catches your eye when you are out and about, etc.

3) Best character traits for the workplace? Honesty, openness and a willingness to suspend judgement. Sharing inspiration and creativity across teams is also important.

Author bio


A proud Kiwi, living in Sydney with my English husband and two Aussie kids. An avid fan of music festivals, and keen ocean swimmer; I relish connecting talented people, and seeing the magical results they create for clients.