Christchurch New Zealand, latest member of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network

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ccsq33.jpgNew Zealand may be a long way off from India but its excellent wines have already made inroads in the Indian wine market. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has long been a favourite with Indian wine lovers and the current trend is a definite tilt towards the excellent Kiwi reds we are seeing here, writes Reva K. Singh Pictured: Christchurch Square


Sommelier India has featured several articles on New Zealand, most particularly by Rosemary George, MW. So we do know a little bit about the subject and are also au fait with the wines. But as the saying goes, “To appreciate the great wines of the world you have to taste them where they are made.”
Central Otago.jpg So although I had other travel plans for the first week in November, I took myself off to New Zealand instead, not having visited this part of the wine world. One of the most pleasurable aspects of my job is visiting different wine regions in the pursuit of wine knowledge. There is no substitute for actually being there and feeling the soil slip through your fingers as the winemaker talks about the uniqueness of his terroir.Above: Vineyards in Central Otago
If you have an interest in wine and are planning a holiday, you can do no better than visit New Zealand. I spent five days attending a wine conference and visiting wineries in Marlborough, New Zealand’s largest wine growing region, but got sufficiently acquainted with the place and the people to commend it to you as an ideal holiday destination – with a great deal to offer besides wine!
Marlborough.jpg Wine, however, was the purpose of my visit. I wasn’t on holiday after all but was attending Wine Discovery New Zealand 2010 International Wine Conference which ran concurrently with the AGM of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network, hosted this year by its newest member, Christchurch/South Island. Left: Marlborough, a major wine producing region
Christchurch is a hub for the five South Island wine regions of Nelson, Marlborough, Waipara Valley, Canterbury and Central Otago, and was accepted into the prestigious Great Wine Capitals global network only last year. Representatives from the other eight Great Wine Capitals met in Christchurch, from October 31 to November 4, to discuss business and chalk out programmes for the following year.
We attended a series of intense meetings interspersed with vineyard tours and wine tastings and dinners during the Conference, including a big International tasting with representative wines from each of the nine capitals and a Gala Awards Dinner on the final night. It was both intense and educational, considering the background and calibre of the Speakers. I came away with a better understanding of many wine related issues, and, of course, Christchurch/South Island with its internationally acclaimed wines and numerous attractions, whether you’re interested in stunning scenery, adventure sports, luxury spas or gastronomy.
Great Wine Capitals (GWC) is a network of cities in, or close to famous wine regions from both the Old and New World, which share a key economic and cultural asset: their internationally renowned wine regions. Bordeaux was the founding city of the organisation, which started in 1999.
nelson.jpg There are now nine member cities, with the cities limited to one per country. Along with Bordeaux there is Bilbao-Rioja (Spain), Cape Town (South Africa), Florence (Italy), Mainz (Germany), Mendoza (Argentina), Porto (Portugal) and San Francisco-Napa Valley (USA) and, now, Christchurch (New Zealand). Right: Vineyards in Nelson, South Island
A combination of chambers of commerce, regional tourism and regional wine promotional bodies, all the Wine Capitals, aim to provide a heightened wine experience to travellers. Member cities help each other in making the most of their geographical locations and unique culture.
As Marcus Pickens, General Manager, Wine Marlborough, commented, “South Island wines and tourism destinations are already marketed with great success overseas, but there are real benefits in working together across our regions to produce even better results.
Christchurch City Councillor Sue Wells also stressed that wine tourism was a key sector. “Visitors can experience the full taste of New Zealand through our wine tourism,” Wells noted. “Wine travellers typically stay longer and spend more.”
Richmond Ranges.jpg The Best Of Wine Tourism Awards were established in 2003 to recognize excellence in several categories including Accommodation, Wine Tourism Restaurants, Art and Culture, Architecture, Parks & Gardens, Significant Wine Tourism Experiences, Wine Tourism Services and Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices. The 2010 Awards were announced at the Gala Dinner on our last night at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch in the presence of Mayor Bob Parker and other City officials. Left: Richmond Ranges, south of Nelson
If you are wondering whether these regions compete with each other, Rex Stults of Napa Valley Vintners, describes the Network as “co-opetition” between the partner regions.
“While we indeed compete with one another on a global scale, the practice of sharing knowledge and ideas can help us leverage our positions in the world of wine and maintain our status at the top. In a way, it is similar to what Robert Mondavi taught us all here in the Napa Valley: None of us is smarter than all of us.”

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