Invivo signs wine distribution deal with Lion

Graham Norton prepares to stomp Invivo grapes, prepared by Invivo co-founder Tim Lightbourne (left), during The Graham ...
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Graham Norton prepares to stomp Invivo grapes, prepared by Invivo co-founder Tim Lightbourne (left), during The Graham Norton Show.

A Waikato winery backed by Irish comedian Graham Norton has signed a distribution deal with beverage giant Lion.

Lion will distribute Invivo Wines' Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough Pinot Gris and Graham Norton's Own Sauvignon Blanc nationwide.

Invivo is big on branding and notched up a marketing coup in 2011 when it secured Graham Norton as a "brand ambassador".

Since then Norton has stomped Invivo grapes on stage as part of a marketing stunt during The Graham Norton Show and last year choose the final blend for his own vintage - Graham Norton's Own Sauvignon Blanc by Invivo 2015.

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He also bought a 1 per cent share in the company in 2014 and another 1 per cent a year later.

Last year Invivo raised $2 million in less than two weeks through crowdfunding - becoming the first New Zealand company to raise the maximum amount allowed.

Invivo co-founder Tim Lightbourne​ said the Lion partnership was another step for the company, making its wine more widely available.

Lion already distributes wines including Huntaway, The Ned, Mount Difficulty and Wither Hills, which it owns.

"They've got a pretty strong wine portfolio which was really interesting for us to be part of that branding nationwide," Lightbourne said.

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Invivo exports to 17 countries and the Lion partnership could open up even more international opportunities, he said.

Lion would be the sole distributor of Invivo, while Lightbourne and co-founder Rob Cameron would continue to look after the wine making and marketing.

Invivo previously distributed through a smaller company called Mineral Wine for five years.

Invivo would be available in Lion's retail stores from July 18.

Lion NZ managing director Rory Glass said Invivo had experienced impressive growth since its launch in 2008 through a combination of innovative marketing, some high profile brand ambassadors and great wine.

Just last week Lion announced it had bought Upper Hutt brewery Panhead Custom Ales, four years after buying Dunedin craft brewer Emerson's.

Located in an historic 114-year-old Waikato winery in Te Kauwhata, about one hour south of Auckland, Invivo is a winery with no vineyard, preferring to source grapes from growers around the country.

 - Stuff

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