Marlborough celebrates International Sauvignon Blanc Day
The wine variety that put the New Zealand industry on the map will light up social media on Friday as people around the globe come together to celebrate sauvignon blanc.
The seventh annual International Sauvignon Blanc Day will start in New Zealand and follow the sun around the world as wine lovers leap to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to show their appreciation of the variety.
New Zealand Winegrowers global marketing director Chris Yorke said sauvignon blanc had come from humble beginnings in New Zealand - the first commercial plantings taking place in Marlborough in 1973 - to become a $1.2 billion export earner.
"It's a success story that's worth celebrating, so raise a glass to the wine that put New Zealand on the map," he said.
On Friday, sauvignon fans were asked to use the hashtags #SauvBlanc and #nzwine to get the event trending on social media and promote the wine that founded the Marlborough industry.
Of the $1.2 billion sauvignon blanc earned as an export product, Yorke estimated the region, which had 18,712 hectares of sauvignon blanc grapes, accounted for just more than $1 billion.
Hunter's Wines managing director Jane Hunter said the variety was not only important to the Marlborough wine industry, but to the region and the country as a whole.
"Without sauvignon blanc we wouldn't have a wine industry," she said.
"It's gone from nothing to an amazing brand that's known around the world, that brings people here and creates jobs."
However, Hunter said the wine industry could not afford to rest on its laurels and events like International Sauvignon Blanc Day were perfect opportunities to introduce more people to the flagship wine.
"There are large plantings of sauvignon blanc going in around the region and we have to stay one step ahead - we need to make sure people are still aware that Marlborough makes some of the best sauvignon blanc in the world."
Claims by Rabobank wine analyst Mark Soccio, that the industry had an over-reliance on sauvignon blanc and demand was declining in some markets, was something Hunter said she had heard since 1987.
"There is always that risk though, which is why we have to keep trying to re-invent the variety and focus on other untapped markets," she said.
For the celebration, Wine Marlborough was hosting an event at Wither Hills where the social media-savvy wine crowd would try and get the two hashtags trending on Twitter.
Yorke said last year they were seen by 14 million people and he was hopeful, with tastings and competitions organised around the world, that figure would increase this year.
Social Guy owner Mark Shaw, who oversees social media for some Marlborough wine companies, said the day was an ideal opportunity for companies to increase their brand visibility.
"It's not just New Zealand that participates, it's the whole world, so it's the ideal chance for Marlborough wineries to put themselves in front of a lot of eyeballs," he said.
"It could be enough to tip someone into getting a New Zealand wine at the supermarket the next day."
Like Hunter, Allan Scott Family Estate social media manager Kylie Cornelius said International Sauvignon Blanc Day was a good way of reminding consumers of the quality of Marlborough sauvignon blanc.
It was also a fun day and she said wine companies enjoyed seeing photographs of their wines posted on social media, as well as being able to engage directly with consumers.
Scotch Wine Shop, in central Blenheim, was also celebrating the day with two tastings of different Marlborough sauvignon blancs.
Owner Dan Gillett said International Sauvignon Blanc Day was busy every year and the range of different sauvignons on offer showed Marlborough was not a one-trick-pony.
"Sauvignon blanc is one of New Zealand's biggest exports and for the region it's massive," he said.
"It's about celebrating what we do best."
- The Marlborough Express