Kiwi wine company Invivo, famous for its collaboration with talk show host Graham Norton, is raising $6.5 million to fund expansion plans.

Invivo co-founders Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron said their wine was initially made from "grapes, time and two maxed out credit cards".

The first wine batch was released in 2008, but according to Lightbourne the partnership with Norton, who has a stake in the business, helped fast track growth.

This has involved the host collaborating on wine blends bearing his name, with the first Graham Norton's Own Sauvignon Blanc released in 2014.


"When we initially launched that wine with Graham we did about 14,000 odd bottles and this year that has grown to about 3 million.

"We're looking to recreate this model in the US and we're pretty excited about the opportunities."

The offer consists of up to 2.7 million shares which equates to 21.3 per cent of the company.

This follows the a 2015 equity crowdfunding exercise which made records at the time, raising $2 million through Snowball Effect.

Lightbourne said the company was in negotiations with a US "household name" to be the face of the brand, similar to Norton in the UK.

"We have created this unique model with Graham and there's a lot of steps to the process. It's not about just putting his name on the label, it's the whole production and the longevity of the partnership," Lightbourne said.

"We see that opportunity in the US as well, so a person that is familiar with the local market that we can work with and do some pretty fun stuff with, and get them involved in production of the blend as well."

The US is the top selling market for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc according to Lightbourne, who said the opportunities in the market were significant for the business.

Invivo wine co-founders Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron. Photo / Michael Bradley
Invivo wine co-founders Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron. Photo / Michael Bradley

As well as funding the expansion, the capital would be used for growing the company's global team, and expanding its wine range.

Invivo has just partnered with growers in Italy to produce a prosecco and Lightbourne said the company would consider partnering with growers in California as well if the opportunity was right.

Invivo is sold in some of the largest international supermarkets globally including Tesco and Asda in the UK, Foodstuffs in New Zealand and Woolworths in Australia among others.

Last year, New Zealand's wine industry exported 254 million litres of wine worth about $1.66 billion.