Artisan wine growers band together

Ian Dee (Georgetown Vineyard), Jean Gibson (Lowburn Ferry), Holger Reinecke (Lindis River Wines),...
Ian Dee (Georgetown Vineyard), Jean Gibson (Lowburn Ferry), Holger Reinecke (Lindis River Wines), Max Marriott (Auburn Wines), Sue Thompson (TOSQ) and Roberta and John Montero (Ellero) are involved with newly launched Artisan Winegrowers of Central Otago. Photo by Max Marriott.
Six small Central Otago wine growers have banded together, aspiring to a greater promotion, awareness and appreciation for artisan wines.

The newly formed Artisan Winegrowers of Central Otago (Awco) said its establishment followed a growing market trend for greater transparency, individuality and integrity of wine brands, as demanded by consumers moving away from corporate multinationals and mass-produced ''plonk''.

It would also serve as a collaborative sales and marketing team, combining resources to achieve a critical mass that could more effectively tackle domestic and offshore markets.

Awco comprised Auburn Wines, Ellero, Georgetown Vineyard, Lindis River, Lowburn Ferry and TOSQ, whose cumulative production ''barely scratched'' 5000 cases. Each had its own point of difference and specialisation.

Chairman Max Marriott, of Auburn Wines, described the launch as ''very exciting''.

''Being very small and super-quality focused, the needs of modest brands such as ours are different from the blueprint that governs the rest of the industry.

''Far from replacing existing industry bodies, we see this banding together as a way of boosting our profile and supporting each other in addition to the various associations that we contribute and draw from,'' he said.

The group had plans to tour New Zealand, affording wine enthusiasts an opportunity to meet the people behind the wines and share in their stories, their trials and tribulations, and their triumphs.

Auburn Wines was established in 2008 by three friends - Mr Marriott, David Paterson and Andrew Burge - with the aim of focusing solely on riesling wine.

Wine industry veterans John and Roberta Montero, from Ellero, left California and Oregon for the Cromwell basin more than 12 years ago, convinced there was potential to make great wine, particularly pinot noir.

Georgetown Vineyard, at the entrance to the Kawarau Gorge, is owned and run using organic methods by Ian and Marianne Dee, while Lindis River, at Cromwell, focuses solely on pinot noir.

Lowburn Ferry Vineyard, beneath the Pisa Range, was first planted by Roger and Jean Gibson in 2000.

Carl and Sue Thompson established their family-owned vineyards, TOSQ, in 2001, on two adjoining sites in the Pisa area.


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