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Economic spin off from international buyers

9 December 2009
Media release

Economic spin off from international buyers at HB red wine events

Hawke’s Bay’s economy looks set to benefit from the interest being shown in local wines by some of the world’s most influential wine buyers who will be in the region in January for two national red wine events.

The line up of international buyers and commentators booking spaces in the New Zealand Cabernet Merlot Forum on Friday 29 January and the New Zealand Syrah Symposium on Saturday 30 January reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the wine world.

“Not only is there huge benefit to be gained from information being shared by the outstanding calibre of speakers but the potential opportunities for our wines and region to be written about, and for our wines to be purchased by some of the most influential writers and buyers is mind-blowing,” says Rod McDonald, Chair of event host Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Inc.

Included in the line up of buyers who could open avenues for sales are four men regarded as hugely influential in their respective markets: Steven Campbell of Lifford Wine Agency in Canada, Fernando Beteta of Chicago Hyatt’s NoMI restaurant in America, Jonathan Butt of Butt Naked Wines, UK and American David Duckhorn of Via Pacifica Selections.

Jonathan Butt was head of a UK’s specialist wine buyer, Threshers Wine Merchants, until mid 2009, but has since set up Butt Naked Wines, with a focus on bringing new wines to the UK retail market in partnership with British wine agent and importer Brand Phoenix. A large part of Butt’s work centres on the development of new agencies from New Zealand, Spain and California for Brand Phoenix.
UK is the largest export market for NZ red wines followed by Australia and then the USA. NZ Winegrowers statistics show that in the first quarter of 2009 (up to September 2009) exports of New Zealand reds to the UK equalled 30 percent of the full 2008 figure of $38,403,359. If this trend continues as expected, then red wine exports will be up on last year but with interest from those attending in January, results could be even more positive, organisers suggest.
Lifford Wine Agency is Ontario’s number one supplier of wine to the hospitality industry and represents more than sixty meticulously chosen wine producers from all over the world. Mr Campbell will be accompanied by three other buyers from the firm.
Canada is New Zealand’s fourth largest export market for red wines ($7,614,713 total sales in 2009 / 10), and Hawke’s Bay’s position as this country’s premium red wine producer bodes well for local wineries.
Via Pacifica Selections, based in California, imports and markets handcrafted premium wine from around the world to the United States. Five representatives from the firm will be attending with Mr Duckhorn.
As part of a small, exclusive niche of up-and-coming, stylish young wine connoisseurs in Chicago, Fernando Beteta, is a master sommelier of the award-winning NoMI restaurant and oversees the wine list of the restaurant’s main dining room, lounge and 10,000 bottle wine cellar.

To date 93 delegates have registered with the majority from New Zealand but a good representation from United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and USA, plus an individual from Germany and Hong Kong.

More details on the national events can be found on the respective event websites and


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