Small town, big task, no problem!

Last updated 00:00 28/08/2007
WARWICK BLACKLER/The Marlborough Express
TIME TO TASTE: Belinda Jackson has organised the Liquorland Top 100 wine competition for which judging starts today in Wellington.

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Liquorland's minister of wine organises the firm's big wine show from her home in Renwick.

The ministry role (yes, it's on her business card) is just one job that the wine consultant Belinda Jackson does from the small town in heartland Marlborough wine country.

Recently, she's been focused on the Liquorland Top 100 wine show, for which judging gets underway at Westpac Stadium in Wellington today.

Last week, she was envisioning tables laid out with wines stretching around the curvature of the second floor of the stadium, as if into eternity. Comfortable shoes are essential for judges and stewards at these things, she said.

More than 1300 wines were first sent to Renwick and then collated at Rapaura Vintners. Labels are checked against entry forms and details carefully entered into a database.

The bottles were then put into 10 pallets and sent across Cook Strait on Friday ? with a day up her sleeve in case weather conditions delayed the ferry.

This morning, a team of 21 judges led by Chief Judge Mike DeGaris started the enviable task of taste testing them all.

Wineries submit four of bottles of wine sealed with a cork and two seal with a screw cap, to ensure that if one bottle is spoil they are still in the race.

Wine that is not used in judging is auctioned and funds raised go to research in the wine industry. This has totalled $80,000 over the past five years.

Ms Jackson came to New Zealand in 1995 having held a senior wine-buying role in the UK. She was responsible for sourcing, buying and marketing 750,000 cases of wine for brewer Carlsberg-Tetley.

She was national wine manager for New Zealand Liquor, which then owned Liquorland, before setting up her own consultancy business and in 2004 moved to Renwick - a natural move for a wine lover who was raised in a small town, she said.

Ms Jackson has been director of the Liquorland Top 100 for the past three years. One of the first things she did was move the show from Auckland to Wellington, to be closer to Blenheim.

She has twin six year old boys and enjoys being involved with Riding for the Disabled

The Liquorland Top 101 awards culminate with an award dinner at the Hilton Hotel in Auckland on October 5.

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- The Marlborough Express

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