Romeo Bragato back in Blenheim for 2013

ROBIN RAYMOND
Last updated 07:27 24/12/2012
Bragato
Romeo Bragato conference in Blenheim 2012

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New Zealand's largest wine conference, Romeo Bragato, will return to Marlborough for a second consecutive year.

In previous years the conference has been rotated between Auckland, Hawke's Bay and Marlborough, but organiser Karen McLean said the success of this year's event at the Marlborough Convention Centre in Blenheim had prompted the New Zealand Winegrowers Association to keep the conference here for a second year.

"The feedback on the success of the venue and the ease of holding the conference in such a compact town was brilliant," she said.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said the decision was a coup for the region, with the event worth about $1 million to the Marlborough economy.

"It just goes to show that, if we can make the space available, big events want to come here."

This year's conference in August saw more than 500 grapegrowers, winemakers and trade representatives gather in Blenheim for the three-day conference featuring forums, talks and demonstrations from business and wine industry leaders, along with the conference wine awards.

Marlborough winegrower and former Winegrowers Association chairman Stuart Smith said the decision was "fantastic news".

Although he was not involved in the decision to bring the conference back here, Mr Smith said he had supported it.

Marlborough was the country's largest wine region and had put on an extremely good event this year. The convention centre had made a great venue, he said.

Keeping the conference in the main wine-growing regions such as Marlborough and Hawke's Bay made sense and the conference was likely to be held here more often in the future, he said.

Mr Sowman said about half the people at the conference this year came from outside the region. The conference was a boost for Marlborough businesses at the end of the quiet winter period.

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- The Marlborough Express

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