Struggling grape growers are outraged at Lindemans’ plans to sell Chilean and South African wines under its label.

Lindemans was founded in 1843 and is now part of the global Fosters Group.

Its strategy to expand into new markets with non Australian wine threatens to further damage a South Australian wine industry struggling with years of glut, according to grape growers.

‘It’s a bit of a slap in the face of the Australian wine industry,’ said Thomas White, wine grower at Mount Jagged Winery, south of Adelaide.

‘It is a bizarre thing and a stupid thing to do when we have 10% minimum oversupply of grapes and wines in Australia.’ he told decanter.com.

White, a former Fosters business analyst, dismissed the strategy as an attempt by short-sighted brand managers ‘to create a huge point of difference with our wine by creating a multi-country blend.’

Meanwhile there is a feeling that the plan is a cynical move on the part of Fosters to exploit an old-established Australian wine name.

Barossa Grapegrowers Council spokeswoman Chris Canute told AdelaideNow that the grape growing industry was ‘appalled.’

‘We see this move as a large company using a highly-rated and recognised Australian brand with a reputation for quality and integrity and basically raping that reputation,’ she said.

But others are working with Fosters. Riverland Winegrape Growers Association executive director Chris Byrne told decanter.com that the campaign ‘may translate to a benefit for Australian growers in the light of the competitive advantages we have.’

He added, ‘It is easy to be cynical and to say that this is all crap and the company will just please themselves.’

Foster’s Group spokesman James Craig-Wood said, ‘We are not raping any reputation. We are extending the Lindemans brand to other countries. Consumers trust the brand name: if they are navigating the aisles looking for Chile or Australia and they see a Lindemans wine, they will trust it to deliver quality.’

He also stressed that the Lindeman’s Australian range would not be reduced.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos