Wine Marlborough board members stepping down
Wine Marlborough's longest serving board member Ruud Maasdam is to step aside at this year's elections after 15 years.
Maasdam, owner and winemaker at Staete Landt Winery, has served on the board since 2001 and is one of four board members, along with Simon Clark, Laurin Gane and Guy Lissaman to step down from the 11-person board.
Up to four board members are replaced each year to ensure new people from the winemaking and grapegrowing sectors are elected.
"I'm probably the last of the Mohicans as one of the last winemaking representatives from the time the winemakers and the grapegrowers merged into one body," Maasdam said.
The merger resulted in a more professional advocacy for both sectors and allowed the Marlborough wine industry to be heard nationally as a united voice, he said.
Maasdam was confident the industry was in a good position to focus on future challenges.
He was enthusiastic in promoting sub-regional styles of wine varieties, particularly sauvignon blanc, grown in the Awatere, Wairau and Southern Valleys, to the rest of the world.
Promoting the sub-regional aspects of sauvignon blanc would enable better export sales, he said.
Maasdam said the three-day inaugural International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration event planned for February was another opportunity to highlight the differences, and diversity, between the sub-regions, he said.
Around 500 wine industry representatives from writers to retail traders and hospitality from major wine producing countries would attend the event, funded by New Zealand Winegrowers, he said.
"Much of the discussion during the three days will focus on where the sauvignon blanc wine industry is heading to."
Maasdam said he favoured quality over quantity as the industry developed further but had decreasing land area to plant new vineyards.
Board member Guy Lissaman said after seven years he was stepping aside to focus on other commitments, and to allow others to have the opportunity to contribute.
Lissaman, representing the grapegrowing sector, said the maturing of the wine industry was a highlight during his time on the board.
After the industry consolidated following the wine glut of 2008 there was a more positive outlook and a strong future driven by high export demand, he said.
"Wine Marlborough is financially sound and is able to provide a level of core services to its members."
Laurin Gane (grapegrowers) and Simon Clark (winemakers) could not be reached for comment.
Election for the new board would be completed by late September.
- The Marlborough Express