Isn't it amazing the difference a year can make. Reading the Marlborough Express over the past month, it appears the wine industry is starting to find its feet again and is moving forward in a careful and confident way.
Compare this with what we were reading a year ago and there is reason for optimism across the province as all the wine-associated industries and people become busier and consequently, more profitable.
One of the more interesting news items concerned Treasury Wines buying Rapaura Vintners and planning an $11 million expansion.
Elsewhere there have been gains in the past 12 months that are reflected in a rise in grape prices. There will be many growers breathing a sigh of relief as the financial pressure eases a little.
Although we are seeing an upswing in the wine industry it won't come without further challenges.
With Christchurch's rebuild accelerating and the drain this will have on the availability of vineyard workers from May 2013, I will be having meetings and doing the necessary work to ensure the Department of Labour and Ministry for Social Development make provision for the wine industry and ensure we have enough people here on time to adequately manage the pruning of Marlborough's 52 million grape vines.
Although it's too early to say that the hard times are over - as anyone in the primary industry knows only too well - the signs are positive. It would be fair to say there are positive signs of a return to former times, although the economic recovery is patchy across the country.
There is a great deal of confidence in Marlborough and its future prospects. Just look at all the retail development going on around Blenheim. The supermarket duopoly is going head-to-head for your grocery dollar and that has resulted in greater choice and competitive pricing. To be honest, I am amazed at the expansion of the supermarket industry in Blenheim. I expect that the two major developments, Pak 'n Save in Springlands and Countdown in Redwoodtown will be welcome additions to our retail sector.
Other major developments - including the opening of the new Rangitane Centre, Pascoe's Jewellers, Rebel Sports and the newly refurbished Farmer's building with the addition of Stevens will all add buzz to the town.
Hot on the heels of all this is the impending construction of the new theatre. All this activity will mean positive economic growth for Marlborough into the future. All this investment in the province comes on the back of business growth in other sectors, so while we are enjoying the trappings of this success it pays to remember it comes from businesses that develop technologies, grow food and timber, manufacture goods and export around the world. These businesses want to come here, if we make them welcome we will all reap rewards.
- The Marlborough Express