Backer confident of Trinity Hill winery's future

By Amy Shanks

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Robert and Robyn Wilson, Charles Banks, with his daughter Augusta Banks, 7, and John Hancock at Trinity Hill Winery. Photo/Paul Taylor
Robert and Robyn Wilson, Charles Banks, with his daughter Augusta Banks, 7, and John Hancock at Trinity Hill Winery. Photo/Paul Taylor

Successful American businessman Charles Banks has been named as a partner in Trinity Hill, with aims to expand and promote the label on a world scale.

It's yet another coup for the Hawke's Bay wine industry, which is undergoing positive change.

Auckland-based companies Delegat's Group and Villa Maria are planning new wineries, to keep pace with growth in the region. It also follows a $500,000 grant from the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust, to promote local wines on the Chinese market.

Mr Banks announced his first New Zealand investment at the Trinity Hill Family and Friends Gala Dinner on Saturday.

"We are enormously excited, especially to be re-entering the US premium wine market, after a five-year absence and in the company of superstar wineries Charles has in his stable," Trinity Hill chairman and co-founder Robyn Wilson said.

"[He] will be able to get our flagship wines the Homage and The Gimblett into the places and on to the lists they deserve to be."

Under the umbrella of his Terroir Wine Fund, Mr Banks owns and distributes some of California's highest-profile wineries, including Mayacamas, the region's oldest cabernet producer, Qupe, which was regularly named America's top Syrah producer, and Sandi, a new cult Chardonnay maker.

He also owns leading South African winery Mulderbosch.

He first met London-based Kiwi Mrs Wilson, and husband Robert, in Atlanta two years ago and sealed the deal with a trip to the winery last November.

"He came and tasted the whole range of wines. At that point he didn't just want to be a distributor, he wanted to be a part of it," Mrs Wilson said.

The visit fell during Hawke's Bay's Food and Wine Classic (FAWC!) celebrations, when Mr Banks and his wife attended a dinner hosted by Trinity Hill co-founder and president John Hancock.

"Typically he delivered - we had a really good catch up about how Hawke's Bay wines had been unmarketed and a little bit left out on a world market," Mr Banks said.

Not only did he want to help make the brand a popular choice, but backed their wines wholeheartedly.

"Our role is simple, we are there to provide support - Warren is so, so talented, he's so understated, but he's as good a winemaker as any in the world.

"I have been hugely impressed by the strides the New Zealand wine industry has made in the last 12 years and I feel the future is very bright - Trinity Hill is in a terrific position to prosper, having consistently delivered high quality wines across its range."

Mr Hancock was excited by plans to build a new boutique winery specifically to showcase their top-end reds.

"We have always known that the Gravels can produce wines to match the best that Europe and the US have to offer - now we will have a state-of-the-art facility to make them," he said.

"And Charles with his extensive sales network across the US, Canada, Europe and Scandinavia has the ability to distribute them for us."

Trinity CEO Michael Henley said the partnership would not only benefit their business but boost Hawke's Bay's image as producers of fine wine.

"By investing in Trinity Hill, Charles and Terroir are ensuring the long-term viability of what is one of Hawke's Bay's and New Zealand's most loved wine labels."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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