The team at Bunkers Wines don’t just craft stunning vino; they celebrate some of Margaret River's greatest surf breaks. We recently sat down with Sally and Amy Calneggia, two of the driving forces behind this award-winning winery and dove beneath the waves to discover the secrets of the Bunkers success story.
Can you tell us a little about Bunkers Wines?
Sally: Bunkers is named after the magnificent and beautiful Bunker Bay, the pristine natural beauty on the tip of the Cape Naturaliste peninsula in the Margaret River wine region in Western Australia. Bunkers unites surfing, fashion and wine – three of our greatest passions. Each wine is a reflection of its namesake Margaret River surf break so we have a "Lefthanders" Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, "Honeycombs" Chardonnay, "Windmills" Rosé, "Guillotines" Shiraz, "Bears" Cabernet Merlot and "The Box" Tempranillo (my favourite). We like to say these are serious wines… for not so serious people.
How long have you two been in the wine business?
Sally: I’ve been working alongside my husband Mike Calneggia in the wine industry since 1984. It’s been a long, exciting and rewarding journey for us both. Bunkers wines have been largely inspired by the youth of our daughter Amy, our love for the Margaret River region and my family’s background of fashion. I’m excited about the journey ahead of us and immensely proud to be working with my very talented and beautiful daughter.
Amy: I joined the family business in my late teens, working part-time in a marketing support role while studying at university. Before that I did the usual wine family stuff working odd jobs in the winery and the vineyard, which hooked me into the fabulous world of wine. I feel very passionate about Bunkers and what we have achieved so far, and I am even more excited about what’s to come!
Bunkers is a close-knit team. Do you find you have to wear multiple hats, and if so, what are they?
Sally: We’re grape growers first, winemakers second and by necessity, business people third. My role is to run the day-to-day administration and to manage our staff relationships, which dovetail into my brand ambassadorial roles along with Amy. As a small business owner it’s a matter of trying to organise the day to fit it all in. Amy: I’ve definitely learned to multitask! I look after the marketing but also very involved in sales. I also work closely with our winemaker Brian Fletcher in keeping an eye on our wine styles and our innovation.
Word has it that your wines are going to be showcased on Qantas flights…
Sally: We are super excited about Bunkers being selected for Qantas flights! The Bunkers "Bears" Cabernet Merlot and Bunkers "Honeycombs" Chardonnay have been selected for the 187 ml program (little bottles) for international flights. It’s fantastic news. So from New York to Mumbai, Cape Town to Rio and everywhere in between, you’re within arms reach of going Bunkers.
What are the biggest challenges in your respective roles?
Sally: Having been in the wine business for over 25 years, Mike and I have been part of both the “ boom and bust years”. I would have to say the last ten of which have been the toughest. With an oversupply of grapes and the GFC of the last 5 years, we have all been put to the test. We have been forced to work even harder to become better business people in order to stay in this industry, which we are so very passionate about. I’m happy to say that we’ve succeeded. Amy: The biggest challenge is prioritizing tasks with limited resources – we are a very small team and we set our goals high so we all have to work very hard to achieve our goals. But we’ve done it!
What do you love about the wine industry?
Sally: The thing I love most about the wine industry is that although we’re very serious business people, being involved with wine allows us to still be very passionate and creative. It allows you to create new and exciting projects as we have done with Bunkers. I love the fact that we have been able to travel the world as a family, and no matter where we go, everyone loves to discuss what you do – and are always happy to share a bottle of your latest award winning wines. Amy: I love the evolution from the vineyard to the bottle. It’s thrilling. Plus, the wine industry is such an amazing group to be a part of – it’s full of interesting, creative and passionate people. Wine is a universal language that brings people together… It’s been around since the beginning of time and will continue to be an important part of our lives. Nothing can replace wine.
Sally and Amy, thank you so much for joining us.
If you feel like going bonkers for Bunkers, try the Bunkers The Box Tempranillo 2010. It presents ripe, lifted red and black fruit aromas with savoury, toasty oak and a ripe, full-bodied palate that has a juicy core of fresh dark fruit and textural tannins. This gem is also our June Wine of the Month, so not only can you enjoy these fantastic flavours, you can also indulge in 20% savings!