Co-op sets target for first vintage

A co-operative set up by a group of grape growers in Marlborough aims to produce 7000 tonnes of grapes in its first vintage, acting chairman Kevin Kilpatrick says.

About 50 growers have formed the Marlborough Grape Producers Group Ltd.

Mr Kilpatrick, a member of the co-operative, said the business model was a cost-effective way to provide stability to the growers, wine processors and the North American clients they have a long-term contract with.

"The idea of a co-operative has been very motivating for growers who have a long-term view on the industry, rather than living from peak to peak," he said.

The group's wine will be produced at the new 13,000 tonne capacity VinLink Marlborough winery being built at Riverlands Industrial Estate, he said.

Contracting out the winemaking meant members are able to join the co-operative without large upfront capital investment.

"Not having to build a flash new winery means we don't have to stump up lots of money, just the grapes," he said.

Members buy shares relative to the size of their crop. When the co-operative has been paid by their customer, and operating expenses have been deducted all remaining money is returned to the growers.

With 50 grower members contributing 7000 tonnes of grapes, they hope to deliver 5.25 million litres of sauvignon blanc from the 2013 harvest, he said.

By comparison, Marisco processed 6000 tonnes of grapes at its Guernsey Rd winery each harvest.

As the co-operative's profile and reputation grows, they hope to attract more customers around the world, although this will depend on how many growers join.

The co-operative has been built on an existing Marlborough wine business set up by a small group of Marlborough growers more than 10 years ago.

The Marlborough Express