Marlborough delegation returns from China

Marlborough District Council economic development officer Cathie Bell, left, and Vitis chief executive Cathy Robinson. ...
ANTHONY PHELPS/FAIRFAX NZ

Marlborough District Council economic development officer Cathie Bell, left, and Vitis chief executive Cathy Robinson. Robinson is holding a gift she received from the Ningxia Wine Bureau.

A Marlborough delegation has returned from a trip to an emerging winemaking province in China. 

Four wine industry representatives travelled to Ningxia, along with Marlborough District Council economic development officer Cathie Bell and Marlborough Research Centre chief executive Gerald Hope. 

The group attended the Ningxia Wine Expo, where Marlborough wine equipment company Vitis had a display. 

They were hosted by the Ningxia Wine Bureau, which met the cost of accommodation and transport in China. 

Vitis chief executive Cathy Robinson said the company made a significant sale of winery equipment during the visit.

Robinson expected to sell more in the coming months, having set up supply outlets in Ningxia.

It was good to be able to share knowledge with the emerging Chinese wine industry, Robinson said. 

"They're like Marlborough 30 years ago, it's still trial and error." 

"There are opportunities for people to go there and broaden their horizons.

"It's fun to be there at the beginning with them to help them get to where they want to go." 

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The Ningxia province, about 800 kilometres west of Beijing, was the fifth largest grapegrowing area in the world.

The area had 34,000 hectares of grapes compared to Marlborough's 23,000ha. 

Council economic development officer Cathie Bell said there were opportunities for Marlborough wine businesses in China, from training and equipment sales to exchanges.

"There's a good opportunity for people to go out there and do a harvest at a different time of year." 

The visit was an exploratory one, with some of the Marlborough wine delegates not expecting to make sales for several years, Bell said.

"They're pleased they went now so they can see what the possibilities for the future are." 

A 17-member delegation from the Ningxia region visited Marlborough in March.

The council was investigating the possibility of establishing a regional friendship agreement with the Ningxia provincial government in the future. 

Bell met with several provincial officials during her time in China including the vice secretary general of the Communist Party in Ningxia.

 - The Marlborough Express

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