Rosie Davenport
The shift by Australian drinks giants towards the premium end of the wine market has paid dividends for Foster's which has seen lager sales outstripped by wine for the first time.
In contrast to the company's lager culture, which was once promoted by Crocodile Dundee star Paul Hogan, sales of its premium wine brands topped A$1.93bn (£700m) for the 12 months to June 2002, eclipsing beer, which trailed at A$1.74bn (£627m).
Foster's latest results are the first to take account of its move away from its 114-year-old brewing traditions with the purchase of Californian winery Beringer in 2000.
Together with sales from its Australian wine brand, Wolf Blass, the group's total profits swelled by 20.6% to A$561m (£200m).
Foster's put the global leap in wine sales down to their premium position in the market.
Foster's president and CEO Ted Kunkel said: "This result reinforces that we are on track with premium wine globally, a new growth engine for the group, delivering a profit of A$250m (£90m)."
Rival Southcorp, which recently reported a 49% rise in net global profits, said Australian firms were reaping the benefits of going down the premium wine route. Communication manager Cath O'Grady said:"We are trying to keep ahead in the quality stakes so consumers can see that Australian companies aren't just resting on their laurels.
Other companies are also benefiting from having a premium focus."
O'Grady said the move towards premium wines would help Australia take on France. She added: "So long as Australia can keep going on the premium track, the sky's the limit."