NZ wines sail into expanding US market

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 13:17 25/09/2013

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The New Zealand wine industry has used the America's Cup to help raise the profile of its wine in its second largest export market.

New Zealand Winegrowers global marketing director Chris Yorke said the opportunity to leverage off Team New Zealand's presence in San Francisco had been too good to ignore.

With the help of staff in its San Francisco office, it has run a programme of wine tasting and educational events during the sailing competition to give people a taste of Kiwi wine, food and culture, Mr Yorke said.

"People in the States only have a two-week holiday and it's a big ask to get them to New Zealand, so we thought we'd take New Zealand to them," he said.

More than 25 wine trade and media people from all over the United States and Canada attended a New Zealand wine "master class" at Team New Zealand's base on the waterfront in San Francisco Bay.

Delegates were treated to a "real New Zealand" experience including a kapa haka performance, food, a tasting of 39 New Zealand wines, and a large screen to watch the America's Cup races.

On the second day they took their visitors out on a boat to watch the race, and by the end of the event they were "New Zealand converts", Mr Yorke said.

"Now we want to build on this work with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise or Tourism New Zealand to make the United States our number one market. We've got about 100 wineries exporting to the States, and we expect it to overtake Australia as our top market within five years," he said.

Last year America overtook Britain as New Zealand's second largest wine export market. In the year ending June 2013 about 43.4 million litres worth $284 million was exported to the US compared with 47.6m litres worth $278m exported to Britain.

"Better price is clearly an advantage and one of the reasons why we are targeting this market, plus we still have relatively low penetration into the key sectors there and the potential for growth is huge," Mr Yorke said.

Success of the event was gauged by inviting feedback from the participants, who were largely very positive, understood the finer points of New Zealand wine regions and were excited about the different varieties, he said.

New Zealand Winegrowers were following up with the participants, encouraging new listings and assisting them to set up events in an effort to continue spreading the word on New Zealand wine.

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- The Marlborough Express

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