Public Relations Case Study

Gemtree Wines – Subterra Launch

The Situation

Gemtree Wines is a South Australian biodynamic winery based in the McLaren Vale.

The winery approached Hughes to develop a short campaign to launch its new wine – Subterra.

Subterra is the first wine in the world to be aged in a barrel underground in the soil underneath the vines where the grapes for the wine were handpicked.

It’s a technique inspired by ancient Georgian winemakers who fermented their wine in clay pots called Amphoras, which were sealed using a thick layer of olive oil at the top and buried in the ground to age.

However, it had never been done in a wine barrel until now.

Gemtree Wines planned to launch Subterra a few weeks prior to Christmas to take advantage of the wine gift buyers and collectors markets.


  • Raise awareness of Gemtree Wines and its biodynamic winemaking philosophy;
  • Attract new markets for Gemtree Wines beyond current loyalists;
  • Use the Subterra launch to create interest in the broader range of Gemtree Wines;
  • Generate website traffic and online sales for Subterra.

Target Markets

  • Australian premium wine buyers, particularly collectors;
  • Australian wine industry;
  • Key media.

Campaign Strategy

Hughes developed an integrated campaign including:

Publicity and Media

Gemtree Wines had received past coverage in the wine media but found it difficult to get The Australian interested in their story.  This was one of their key aims.

The launch of Subterra provided an opportunity to bypass The Australian’s wine writer and target general news. Hughes worked with Gemtree Wines to advise on and develop the media pitch and news release along with a publicity strategy including development of targeted media lists.

Video and Photography

Hughes brought the Subterra story to life with a skilfully shot and edited video.

Produced by Hughes in-house videographer, the video incorporated vision of the barrel being excavated from the vineyard, vineyard and winery vision and an interview with Gemtree Wines owner and winemaker Mike Brown.

We also worked with Gemtree’s photography to ensure we had the right style and quality photography required for media and social media.

Social Media (Paid and Owned)

Hughes developed a social media strategy for the launch of Subterra which included both organic and paid activity to reach our target market.

General advice was also provided on improving Gemtree Wines overall social media presence and content.

The strategy was then given to Gemtree Wines to implement with ongoing support and guidance from Hughes.


Hughes worked with Gemtree Wines to provide advice on the structure of the Subterra webpage and develop content. The page was hosted on the main Gemtree Wines site to also generate further understanding of the winery and its other wines – one of the key objectives.

Watch the original Subterra Unearthing video below