Welcome to 2013 - well the second half of the first month of 2013. Like any industry and any business the wine industry needs to continue to evolve and grow to prosper in the future and there are two key ways those in the wine industry do this: Innovate with new products to meet a market need; and to strive to make a better product so consumers will choose your wine ahead of someone else's.
One new product that has appeared on our shelves this summer after proving a huge hit with train commuters and at festivals in the UK is the pre-packed 175ml plastic glass of wine. This very cool concept is ideal in many scenarios and I think would be fantastic at places like theatres and events like sporting fixtures or festivals, provided of course the product in the container is up to a reasonable standard.
The glasses are foil-sealed and also have a clip-on plastic lid that you can put back on once you have opened it to avoid spillage. The first offerings produced by Soulo (www.soulo.co.nz) include a Marlborough 2011 sauvignon blanc, a chardonnay and a merlot (no vintage on the labelling).
I tried the sauvignon blanc which is light and fruity, not the greatest quality but certainly not offensive and perfect for its intended market, and the merlot which is rich and fruity. Again the quality doesn't set the world on fire but it is perfectly drinkable and ideal for a mass market.
Priced at about $5 a glass this innovation is also quite affordable. I think we will see this clever little product being used widely in future as the idea catches on.
One way winemakers improve what they do is to learn from the very best and on January 31 and February 1 Nelson winegrowers will host their third Aromatics Symposium where Markus Huber, from Austria, will be the keynote speaker.
Described by the international trade press as a winemaker to watch and a "Wunderkind" (British Decanter Magazine), Huber will discuss "factors affecting the styles of Austrian gruner veltliner wines from a producer's perspective, including terroir, viticulture and winemaking practices".
This subject may sound quite technical but I know from experience that speakers like 33-year-old Huber pass on their knowledge and experience in an often humorous manner.
Cameron Douglas, a Master Sommelier from New Zealand, is going to discuss the future of New Zealand's new aromatic wine varieties, while UK wine writer and award-winning wine blogger Dr Jamie Goode is going to ponder the question, is the wine-drinking population ready to embrace riesling (or has it already happened)? He will also have a look at what is social media's place in promoting this and other varieties?
Add in a number of tastings of local, national and international riesling and gruner veltliner wines and the two half-days promise to be both informative and fun.
If you want to rub shoulders with national and international winemakers and wine writers who will travel here after attending Pinot 2013 in Wellington (as well as plenty of local wine talent) then you can join the party at the Moutere Hills Community Centre. Check out the Nelson Wineart website (www.wineart.co.nz) for all the information you will need.