It's a big deal

More than 400 wines were entered in the inaugural Marlborough Wine Show, but there could only be one winner.

Relative newcomers Invivo Wines took the top prize of champion wine with their 2011 sauvignon blanc.

They collected their trophy at the awards ceremony at Marlborough Vintners Hotel, at Rapaura, on Saturday night.

While the owners are based in Auckland, the winning company buys in their grapes from growers in Marlborough and leases space at Spring Creek Vintners to produce the wines.

Invivo Wines co-founder and winemaker Rob Cameron described the accolade as fantastic.

"For me, personally, it is my first trophy as a winemaker so it is a pretty big deal and as a company it is massive," he said.

Mr Cameron has been making wine for 12 years but founded Invivo Wines in 2007 with business partner Tim Lightbourne.

Invivo Wines released their first wine in 2008.

"We have only been going four years and are fairly new to the business but have been going from strength to strength," Mr Cameron said.

"This award should make life a lot easier in the export market, giving people confidence in what we do."

Mr Cameron is hands-on when it comes to making wine.

"I'm very much involved in the process but we are really lucky to have some excellent growers who are just as committed to producing quality.

"With the industry being in such challenging times at the moment we as an industry have to celebrate quality and reiterate to our customers overseas that we are a step above our competitors.

"These awards are exciting for Marlborough, and it is exciting that we are the inaugural champions."

Invivo Wines co-founder Tim Lightbourne paid tribute to the dedication of his colleague.

"It is great for Rob and the other growers in Marlborough to be recognised," he said. "We probably couldn't have picked a worse time to launch our company so it's been hard work." Wine show director Belinda Jackson said the outstanding classes in the competition were the 2011 sauvignon blanc, the 2010 pinot noir, the aged riesling and the sweet wines.

Ms Jackson hopes the wine show becomes an annual event.

"With the tremendous support we have experienced from the industry and our sponsors we will definitely run it again," she said.

"Last night was the first of many and hopefully the awards will form an important part of the wine industry calendar here in Marlborough."

The Marlborough Express