Cromwell-based wine event fails in bid for community board and industry support

Cromwell and Districts Promotion Group chairwoman Janeen Wood.
Emma Maddox

Cromwell and Districts Promotion Group chairwoman Janeen Wood.

A lack of industry support has cost Cromwell the hope of hosting a summer wine and food festival in 2018.

The Cromwell Community Board declined a request to the Cromwell Promotions Group for $​36,500 to establish a Cromwell-based signature food and wine event to be held in February 2018 at its meeting on Tuesday.

In January 2016, the board agreed in principle to provide a grant of up to $23,000 on condition the group got industry support and developed a business and marketing plan. In June, the board released $5000 of the grant to enable the promotions group complete a feasibility study.

Central Otago District Council market support adviser Alison Mason said there had been "quite a history" with the proposal, going back to January 2016 when the group first raised the concept of developing an iconic food and wine festival for the basin.

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The board had set aside funding and invested in a feasibility study and at its December meeting it requested the group conduct a survey with the wine and food industry to gauge support.

"The response has generally indicated there is support but the proposal did not have support in its current form."

Central Otago Winegrowers Association general manager Glenys Coughlan said the survey established there was "certainly an interest" in creating a new wine and food event that would attract visitors to the region and drive further sales of Central Otago wines but views were divided about whether Waitangi Weekend was the right time of year and over the suitability of the Cromwell racecourse as a venue as opposed to a vineyard.

Winegrowers were more interested in a region-wide series of events that linked up which would include Cromwell, rather than a Cromwell-based event, she said.

"There is no denying that is something we want to do  which includes Cromwell."

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Cromwell and Districts Promotions Group chairwoman Janeen Wood said it was good that wineries saw an opportunity to establish a new promotional event but in order for it to be a financial success they needed to get the right level of buy in from wineries.

"A number of wineries had also responded that they weren't sure that the concept we presented would support the premium positioning that Central Otago wines hold in the market.

"We need to make sure the promotional dollars we invest are supporting things that can be financially successful, sustainable and deliver long term value to the region. We remain of the view that a premium win and food festival would be an asset to the region but the concept needs to be something that wineries, food producers and restaurants will actively support. The event would also need to attract considerable patronage from this region and elsewhere. 

"We produce some of the finest wines and food in Central Otago and it is important that our promotional efforts reflect that. I hope that in the future there will be an event that can truly celebrate and showcase our produce in the wonderful location that it is produced in. Hopefully a seed has been sown."

Wood said the group was disappointed to not get the whole-sell support from the industry.

"But I can understand why...if it's not the right time...I am just hoping it has dropped a seed and something will be forthcoming in the future."

Board chairman and deputy mayor Neil Gillespie said their decision making process had showed "good rigour".

"Potentially it will grow in momentum now...or it will not."

Councillor Nigel McKinlay said the information obtained would be useful in the future.

"I am happy money has been spent at we will move onto the next thing in due course."

The board would release $18,000 to be made available for new applications prior to June 30.

 - Stuff

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