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How co-working is helping bring wine on tap to the world

Wine and beer are pretty much a staple at most co-working spaces – Friday night drinks anyone?

But one Aussie business is using co-working spaces to bring wine not just to their co-working colleagues, but to the broader market. And their unique offering is turning heads in the beverage space.

Vintner Tom O’Donnell and keg aficionado Joe Cook are introducing premium wines on tap to the Australian market and are using co-working spaces to grow their innovative business.

The South Australian pair launched the Riot Wine Co in 2016, producing quality wines in keg-sized stainless steel vats destined for pubs and restaurants Australia-wide.

Tom O'Donnell

Tom O’Donnell, co-owner of Riot Wine Co. Picture: Supplied

The venture comes after the wine on tap movement has been successful in other regions, including California’s famous Napa Valley.

In just two years Riot Wine Co has accrued a growing list of Australian clients, including the well-known Coogee Pavilion and The Farm Byron Bay.

“Previously in Australia there has not been an example of quality wine on tap,” says O’Donnell.

“Quite often when you buy a glass of wine it has been oxidised or open for a couple of hours or even days, and restaurants don’t want to run the risk of opening reasonable quality wines.”

However, targeting venues across Australia has presented some interesting challenges for the startup, including finding a place to base their growing team of staff.

Rather than setting up permanent offices in several states, which would be costly, the company is instead using co-working spaces.

O’Donnell rents a desk two days a week in Adelaide, while Cook works from a permanent shared office space in Sydney.

The duo also hire corporate boardrooms short-term for external meetings and as the team expands, they are expecting to book office space for sales representatives in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Cook says the strategy allows the company to scale up efficiently, while maintaining a professional appearance.

“The reason we went with a shared working space is because you get all the benefits of big business efficiency, with costs like electricity,” Cook says.

“And I must admit when we are interviewing, and it is just Tom and I, being able to go to a co-working space and look like we are much bigger than we are, to give people some confidence in what we are doing, is great.

“We exude a lot of confidence… we love it and are passionate but for an outsider looking in it is nice to give them peace of mind.”

wine glasses

Riot Wine Co uses co-working spaces across the country to help grow their business. Picture: Unsplash

Being located in shared offices with other firms has also led to unexpected benefits.

“You appreciate the fact that there are other small businesses there grinding it out,” Cook says.

“We use some of the services of the companies that we have met in the shared working spaces. It is pretty amazing, sometimes it feels like we are in the same business because we are in the same building on the same floor, but they have their own clients and we have our own customers.”

By avoiding lease agreements and overhead costs the pair has had extra resources to put towards the business and new products.

In March this year Riot Wine Co launched a canned wine range.

The maiden product is a rosè – currently the wine of choice in Australia.

There are also plans in the pipeline for a cuvée and sèmillon blanc from the Adelaide Hills.

“It has always been in our business plan to have wine in cans,” Cook says.

“A bit of it is about technology and if there was anything we had to do to the wine to make it quality.

“Occasionally we get asked if it tastes like aluminium, but your coconut water doesn’t, and your craft beer doesn’t.”

“Wine is made in big stainless steel vats and we just pour it into a smaller one.”

The next phase is expected to bring big growth for Riot Wine Co team and the duo say they will continue to use co-working spaces as they expand.

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