The sun has set on one of New Zealand's major wine brands, Montana Wines, which will soon become Brancott Estate.

The name change, which will be rolled out globally in September and October, was triggered partly by the strong growth of wine exports to the United States - where Montana Wines has been known as Brancott Estate for more than a decade - to avoid market confusion.

Many North Americans associated Montana Wines with the State of Montana, rather than Marlborough, New Zealand.

The name Marlborough further caused confusion, being associated not with New Zealand wine, but, rather, Marlboro cigarettes.

"When evaluating a name change, Brancott Estate was the logical choice due to the history of Montana Wines in Marlborough," said Fabian Partigliani, managing director of the winemaker's parent company Pernod Ricard New Zealand.

"The new name, Brancott Estate, is not only the home of Montana's flagship Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, it is our original Marlborough vineyard and where Sauvignon Blanc was first planted in Marlborough," Mr Partigliani said.

"The change will focus resources and significant long-term investment globally to leverage the power of a single, premium brand of wines for our export markets."

With the strength of the Montana brand in New Zealand, there will be a dual brand strategy with one of the company wine ranges, in this country only.

The Montana name will be retained for the Montana Classics range in New Zealand, with Brancott Estate being acknowledged on the label, to maintain a link with the rest of the range.

All other premium wines in the range, including Montana Reserve wines, Montana Letter Series and Montana Living Land, launched this year, will change to the Brancott Estate name from the 2010 vintage.

Pernod Ricard New Zealand announced yesterday it is the first New Zealand-based Official Sponsor of the Rugby World Cup 2011.

"The sponsorship of this premium global event provides the perfect platform to drive global awareness of Brancott Estate as a leading New Zealand wine brand, particularly in key markets, such as the UK, Australia and, of course, here in New Zealand," said Mr Partigliani.

New Zealand Winegrowers' Association head Philip Gregan said the industry needed more focused brand investment, such as the Rugby World Cup sponsorship.