Firm moves HQ to wine country

Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand is to move its head office to a new home later this year in the heart of the country's wine industry - Marlborough.

Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand general manager Philip Manson, who is based in Auckland, will move to Blenheim in October and run the organisation out of the office at the Marlborough Research Centre on Budge St in Blenheim.

Manson said he was looking forward to the move and believed it would benefit Marlborough and New Zealand's wine industry.

"Obviously we've had a pretty strong presence in Marlborough with Sally [van der Zijpp, Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand national co-ordinator] and the team so it's really just strengthening that.

"Marlborough is the largest grape-producing region is the country by a long shot . . . [so] that's part of the reason, but the other part of it is a personal decision because lets face it, it's not a bad place to live," Manson said.

"It's also an opportunity to work closer with the key players in the industry."

Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand is an organisation established in 1994 with the aim of providing a "best practice" model for environmental practices in the vineyard and for wineries.

Manson said being based in Marlborough meant the the organisation would have "a sharper view on the issues impacting our largest [wine] region".

Manson said the organisation also wanted to be more involved in biosecurity and labour: "These are two big areas that are growing in terms of input."

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said it was significant for Marlborough's economy to see an important management-layer of the wine industry being established in Marlborough.

"Marlborough is the centre of the wine industry - almost 80 per cent of the country's wine production is now happening here, so [it] makes sense to also see more of the industry's infrastructure here inside the region.

"It's very pleasing to see the wine industry putting more of its sustainable management expertise in close reach of the growers and winemakers who are the backbone of this sector," Mr Sowman said.

The move was an important example of "how the pull to the super-city can be reversed", Sowman said.

"The management experts, the high-skilled people don't need to be based in Auckland when the centre of their industry is right here, in Marlborough.

"Surely this is a better, more efficient place to be - on the spot and able to monitor and manage the industry's big issues, like biosecurity and labour."

Marlborough Research Centre chief executive officer Gerald Hope said additional staff and organisations that supported the region's grape growers were always welcome.

"I think it just gives additional recognition to the growers and to the wine industry in Marlborough.

"It's 40 years since we planted the first grapes . . . [and] without Marlborough grapes there wouldn't be a $1.33 billion industry."

It was now about continuing growth in national and international markets, and sustainable growing would help that, he said.

"From a brand point of view, the quality of the fruit is pertinent to the future of sustainable winegrowing.

"The underpinning of sustainable winegrowing has been crucial for Marlborough's wine industry."

The Marlborough Express