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Babich Wines Hosts Belgian Sommelier Tour

20 January 2005

Media Release: Babich Wines Hosts Belgian Sommelier Tour

The renowned Belgium hotel and catering school, “Ter Groene Poorte”, has decided to send its 20 strong class of students training to be sommeliers (qualified wine waiters) to New Zealand for a visit from 30 January to 11 February 2005. Babich Wines are the major sponsor of this tour – the first of its kind from a European hotel school.

Joe Babich, Managing Director, is excited about the opportunity to host such a group. “Babich have been selling wine in the Belgian market for 10 years now. Our Belgian distributor works closely with the school and it makes sense that we support them. These students will be a voice for New Zealand and New Zealand wine back in Europe, so it is fantastic that Babich can help them gain this first hand New Zealand experience.”

This famous school, founded in 1963 and based in Brugge, is the largest in Belgium, a country which prides itself on its gastronomy. The school has 1,600 students, from 12-19 years, including 400 boarders and offers a full secondary education but with parallel specialist courses in catering, including butchery, bakery/patisserie and wine. The school is renowned throughout Europe for producing the countries top sommeliers and has produced many winners of ‘world wine’ contests.

Their decision to visit New Zealand is based on the ever growing popularity of New Zealand wine in their industry. The Belgian initiative in bringing such a group so far from home is, in itself, remarkable: the school has taken groups to South Africa and Chile but this is its first time to the Asia Pacific region.

The trip will include visits to all of New Zealand’s major wine regions including Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough and Canterbury. Tours and tasting sessions have been arranged with several of the key wineries in these regions.

This visit represents an opportunity to present to these young students, the New Zealand wine and food industry. The students will be the future ambassadors and experts of NZ wine and will be well-placed for sales promotion in hotels, restaurants, department stores and wine shops throughout Europe. The school is convinced that there is huge potential for NZ wine in Belgium and that this study trip is worth the effort.

The tour will be accompanied by a film crew from Liberté TV - a well known TV-Channel in Europe who broadcast 24/7 in Dutch and French on cable and on satellite, reaching 11 million households in Europe. They also work with National Geographic. The tour will also be accompanied and supported by a specialised journalist who will bring the necessary media attention to this important trip.


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