Kiwi wine 'family' embarks on Asia drive

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Craggy Range Winery in Hawke's Bay is one of the 'Family of Twelve' taking part in a tour to promote kiwi wine in Asia. Photo / Warren Buckland
Craggy Range Winery in Hawke's Bay is one of the 'Family of Twelve' taking part in a tour to promote kiwi wine in Asia. Photo / Warren Buckland

A dozen of New Zealand's best winemakers have teamed up on a tour to boost the kiwi wine brand and build key contacts in Asia.

The self-labelled 'Family of Twelve', which includes the likes of Villa Maria, Pegasus Bay, Craggy Range and Kumeu River, has left today for Singapore and Hong Kong, taking in Melbourne on the way.

As well as running a series of master-classes to showcase their individual wines, the group will also take part in the 2012 Hong Kong International Wines and Spirits Fair.

Paul Brajkovich, from Kumeu River Wines, said the aim is to present New Zealand wines "in the very best light" and generate plenty of interest.

Asia, particularly China, is considered an emerging market and the region is a key focus for wine producers right now, he said.

"Everybody in the wine industry is looking at China because when you have a population of that size starting to get an interest in wine, it's a big opportunity."

At present, the wines dominating the Asia market tend to be very expensive French labels, he said.

It is natural that people will start looking for cheaper premium wines, like those made in New Zealand, said Brajkovich.

"A wine culture may start to filter down and they may start looking for well-balanced, very good wine."

Not all of the 12 wineries has a representative on the tour but that was not an issue, he said.

"Each winemaker in the Family of Twelve knows the others' products well so when we do a trip like this we don't all have to travel."

A strong emphasis of the trip will be on educating consumers and the media about kiwi wines but it is hard to know exactly what results to expect, he said.

"With wine fairs, it's always difficult to know how much interest you'll generate."

This is the group's first overseas tour in three years since a trip to Dublin, Chicago, Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide.

Its first tour together was in 2005, which covered San Francisco, New York and London.

The Family of Twelve will be in Singapore from November 1-3, and Hong Kong from November 5-10.

The group comprises Kumeu River, Villa Maria, The Millton Vineyard, Craggy Range, Ata Rangi, Palliser Estate, Neudorf Vineyards, Nautilus Estate, Fromm Winery, Lawson's Dry Hills, Pegasus Bay, and Felton Road.

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