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The Stanley Wine Company is Australia's leading producer of cask wine. In a market that values quantity and effect over taste, Stanley stands as exemplar.

Beginning its life as a small grape juice processing plant in the rural town of Buronga, things changed rapidly after the independent plant was bought by multinational HJ Heinz. In true Heinz fashion, the site was almost razed to the ground and replaced with a purpose built "industrial facility". Locals are loathe to call it a "winery" or "vineyard" as the product that it spawns bears little to no resemblance to wine. Heinz's corporate mantra was to become the lowest cost producer in every market it entered. With the Buronga plant, it succeeded immeasurably. The plant was converted from a 12,000 tonne juicer into goon-breeding behemoth - a 35,000 tonne winery, with a 30 million litre storage capacity and two automated cask wine filling lines. In 1988, BRL Hardy acquired the plant, named him Stanley, and doubled production capacity to meet demand.

The Stanley cask wine is no less than an Australian icon. Cryptically labelled "Nothing's as sure as Stanley", the distinctive black cardboard box containing a silvery pillow brings delight to the most hardened drinkers.

Varietals and blends abound in the tragi-comic Stanley range, the only constant between them is that they are all packaged in a 4 litre "aluminium retort pouch". None of them can be trusted.

The Wines

Notably, all of Stanley's wines lack a vintage. To the best of my knowledge, none of them will withstand cellaring and should be quaffed immediately after purchase, chilled and straight from the plastic sac.

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