Good things for wine take time

New Zealand’s newest wine region has been left off a Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand Winegrowers list of "wine experiences".

Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand Winegrowers put out a joint statement late last year stating 25% of international visitors to New Zealand sought out a "wine experience", but when New Zealand Winegrowers listed the "total number of wine experiences in each region", Waitaki Valley was omitted.

Waitaki Wine Tours’ Sue Mansworth said the region offered "outstanding" wines,  but not only was Waitaki Valley not being given the credit it was due at a national level, even locally, too many "don’t even know they have a wine region up here".

She established her wine tourism business in April last year  after moving to Waitaki from Waihola in 2015.

The region was not off the radar, she said.

"No, we’re at the beginning. Wine is big business. And people coming through here don’t even know that we’re a wine district.

"It’s all beginning, but it’s quite frustrating when you’re all ready to go."

Last year, 18 regions applied for "geographical indications" (GI), or collectively owned intellectual property rights used internationally to promote and protect the reputations of wines’ places of origin, and Waitaki Valley Wine Growers Association chairman Andrew Ballantyne said once Waitaki Valley received its GI confirmation, it would be more readily recognised as a stand-alone region.

For now, Waitaki Valley fell often under the umbrella of Central Otago or Canterbury.

"Due to our size, that’s probably why it happens," he said.

"I guess we’ve been around for a wee while, but in terms of vines and grapes and wines, it’s a slow process ... Central probably took 10 or so years before they got recognised as being Central — all the regions, really. And if you look around the world, everyone struggles to get recognised and it just basically takes time."

New Zealand Winegrowers communications co-ordinator Amber Silvester said the list of 462 wine experiences in 10 regions were "experiences run by wineries only; including restaurants at wineries, accommodation at wineries, tours run by wineries, and cellar doors".

The statistics included were released before the GI applications were submitted.

"So, going forward, we will be referring to Waitaki Valley as a separate wine region," she said.

"For this report Waitaki Valley was combined with the number of Central Otago experiences. Currently we have two wineries in the Waitaki Valley that have identified themselves to us as having cellar doors: Pasquale and Ostler."

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