Wine industry urged to seize moment

SONIA BEAL
Last updated 11:30 01/11/2012

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The time is right for capitalisation, making the most of the New Zealand wine industry's strong position, incoming New Zealand Winegrowers chairman Steve Green says.

Mr Green, proprietor of Central Otago winery Carrick, was appointed on Friday as chairman of the national organisation that comprises 1500 grape growers and winemakers. He succeeds Stuart Smith, of Fairhall Downs Estate in Marlborough, who stepped down after six years.

Gisborne grape grower John Clarke is the new deputy chairman.

Mr Green said the wine industry had upheld its "very strong" position during the past four bumpy years, and needed to build on that strength.

"I think we're seeing two things here - increased activity and prices, which is small beginnings, but it augurs well for the future.

"Our export prices have remained high and that's because our wine is still regarded as a high-value product.

"Now is the time to capitalise."

The 2011 strategic review of the sector provided a sound starting base, Mr Green said.

"A key success factor for us will be for all parts of the industry . . . to continue to work together through New Zealand Winegrowers . . ."

Improving information, advocacy, research and promotion for grape growers, regions and wineries was a major factor in ensuring this success, he said.

"What we're trying to do is ensure that all of our members have the best tools to develop and grow their business."

Mr Green was optimistic about the future for New Zealand wine. "The sector has been through tough times . . . but we are definitely seeing signs of improvement."

The appointment to chairman had been an honour, he said.

He was following "a tireless advocate for the industry" who was held in wide respect by all stakeholders. "Stuart has left the board and New Zealand Winegrowers in a very strong position."

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- The Marlborough Express

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