Wine boss apologises for 'perplexing' remark

NZ Winegrowers have apologised after comments made by its chief executive Philip Gregan at a recent conference in ...
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NZ Winegrowers have apologised after comments made by its chief executive Philip Gregan at a recent conference in Blenheim drew an angry response on social media.

New Zealand Winegrowers has apologised for a remark made by chief executive Phillip Gregan at an organic wine conference in Blenheim.

New Zealand Winegrowers chairman Steve Green said in a statement that Gregan's comments made during the conference "were poorly chosen and could have been framed better". 

Gregan's comments were made in a panel discussion following a speech he made to open the conference which was attended by New Zealand and international organic and biodynamic winegrowers.

Green said the comments had caused a backlash among some wine industry members on social media.

An article by wine columnist John Saker later raised the issue in a monthly column.

Saker wrote "it was perplexing to hear Phillip Gregan tell the conference that he scolded his wife if she spent more than $15 on a bottle of wine. Even $8 will buy you something good."

Green said in the statement that the comments attributed to Gregan in the article were not taken from his speech.

Wine blogger Rebecca Gibb said she was "astounded" by Gregan's remarks.

"These are not the words that the 700-odd wine producers want to hear from its leading man, whose wage they pay," Gibb blogged.

In his speech Gregan highlighted the importance of New Zealand wine's premium, clean, green image and achievements in commanding an above average price in key export markets, Green said.

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Green said the organisation had ambitious goals for the industry.

These included reaching $2 billion in wine exports by 2020.

"To achieve our goals we have to grow value, and increasing the market share of higher priced wines plays a crucial role in that strategy," he said.

New Zealand Winegrowers champions and supports all producers regardless of size, Green said.

"The diversity of wineries, regions, and the widespread adoption of sustainable and organic production across New Zealand is what makes our industry unique.

"New Zealand Winegrowers has never, and will never, lose sight of the fact that the commitment to a premium reputation is the most powerful unifying force for the industry."

Green said any industry members should contact the organisation  if they have any concerns or questions regarding Saker's article.

Organic wine growing pioneer James Millton said that Gregan had been one of the biggest supporters of the organic wine industry for many years.

"He had been pivotal in offering help to organic winegrowers for many a long time."

Organic and Biodynamic Wine Conference co-ordinator Bart Arnst said Gregan's comments "were off the cuff."

"The comments were not damaging to the conference, or winegrowers at all," he said.

"There was three days of positivity verses a few seconds of negativity.

"Philip Gregan was, and is, a strong supporter of Organic Winegrowers New Zealand."

 - The Marlborough Express

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