Wine conference welcomed back
The largest wine industry conference in New Zealand returns to Marlborough next week.
The 18th annual Romeo Bragato conference runs from August 22-24 at the Marlborough Convention Centre in Alfred St, Blenheim.
The theme for 2012 is Driving the Export Advantage through Sustainability, and more than 500 grapegrowers, wineries and industry suppliers will be attending.
New Zealand Winegrowers chairman Stuart Smith said it made sense for Marlborough to host the largest technical conference within the New Zealand wine industry.
"Marlborough is the base of our industry really, it's fantastic to get it here," he said.
"It's much more accessible and open to far more industry participation when it's here."
Mr Smith is standing down as president of New Zealand Grape Growers, a position he has held for six years. His successor will be chosen at the annual general meeting on Wednesday, but he will remain in his role on New Zealand Winegrowers until October.
Keynote speakers will include business journalist Rod Oram, Contiki founder John Anderson and Sustainable Winegrowing chairman Mal McLennan.
Convention centre general manager Brett Inkster said this would be the largest conference the venue had hosted, and staff were busy planning the catering and logistics to ensure its success.
The last time the conference was held in Blenheim, it was split between the convention centre and the Trust Stadium, Mr Inkster said.
This year 100 square metres of marquees are being set up in the convention centre's carpark, because organisers want the occasion at one hub.
"Without getting approval to put the marquees up, we might not have won the contract to hold the conference," he said.
"This shows the flexibility of the venue and our ability to run an event like this successfully, based on such a large number of delegates."
Mr Inkster is also general manager of Scenic Hotels Marlborough, which are fully booked next week.
Chateau Marlborough general manager Lynley McKinnon said the hotel was heavily booked throughout the week.
The two marquees are a base for industry suppliers to showcase their products and services including glassware, bottle packaging, winery machinery, fence posts, netting, irrigation supplies and frost protection.
The Bragato dinner on Thursday night is already booked out and will include the Bragato Wine Awards, Bragato Trust Fellowship Study Grant and the Markhams Young Viticulturist finalists.
The conference was last in Marlborough in 2010.
- The Marlborough Express