A two-day visit by wine writers from the USA, UK, Russia and Australia will help put Northland on the global wine tourism map according to Kerikeri wine-maker Rod McIvor.
The nine writers, who were in New Zealand for a Sauvignon Blanc Symposium in Marlborough, spent two days based in Russell, visiting wineries, sailing and sampling local wines.
Mr McIvor, of Kerikeri's Marsden Estate, said it was the first time New Zealand Winegrowers had brought a group of international journalists to Northland, the party representing publications including Forbes, Mindfood, Martha Stewart Online and Fodors, while others had large followings on Twitter and Instagram. Six were from the US, and one each from Russia, the UK and Australia.
"They're heavy hitters, they really do have quite a bit of influence. This puts us on the map as far as wine tourism goes," he said.
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The group flew directly to Kerikeri after arriving in New Zealand on January 24 and stayed two nights at the Duke of Marlborough. They boarded a yacht in Russell wharf and toured the Bay, followed by tasting wines from Mangawhai to Kaitaia at The Landing, on the Purerua Peninsula.
The next day they were taken to Paroa Bay and Omata Estate, near Russell, and Marsden Estate, before heading to Nelson.
Mr McIvor said the national body was keen to promote Northland as a wine destination.
New Zealand Winegrowers' Northland chairman Peter Jones said he was encouraged by the increasing interest in Northland wines. This year was the bicentennial of the first planting of grapevines in New Zealand — by Samuel Marsden, in Kerikeri in 1819.
Meanwhile, winegrowers say the dry summer so far means 2019 is shaping up to be a vintage year. Harvesting is due to start in a few days' time.