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GeorgeClooneyWhenev­er I hear the state­ment that New Zea­l­and pro­duces less than 3 per­cent of the wine sold on the glob­al mar­ket, I try to visu­al­ise what that is. This year I atten­ded Pro­Wein in Düs­sel­dorf, Ger­many, and could see that 3 per­cent works out to be approx­im­ately 200 square metres — or about 800 bottles — with­in a 50,000-square-metre city of wine that has tens of hun­dreds of thou­sands of dif­fer­ent wines to taste.

It sounds like a lolly shop, but more busi­ness than wine tast­ing is done at this fair. Pro­Wein is the wine trade show for those ser­i­ously look­ing to expand their inter­na­tion­al dis­tri­bu­tion. It attracts pro­du­cers, exhib­it­ors, import­ers, media and wine trade from around the globe. Around 6,000 exhib­it­ors, 1,000 journ­al­ists and 48,000 vis­it­ors hustle, spit and shake hands. It’s stu­pendously big. It took me over an hour to tra­verse the entire peri­met­er of sev­en sta­di­um-sized halls — without even stop­ping at the Cham­pagne lounge on the way.

So with all of these people eager to sell and buy wine, what does it take to be suc­cess­ful in this envir­on­ment — secur­ing an import­er in anoth­er coun­try? How can one pos­sibly have a voice amongst the chaot­ic clat­ter of thou­sands? How can your boutique brand from little New Zea­l­and be dis­tin­guished from the tower­ing dis­plays of gold-plated bottles, neon labels and, my per­son­al favour­ite, the George Clooney wine?

Unless you are an enorm­ous wine pro­du­cer with gar­gan­tu­an resources, the key lies in col­lab­or­a­tion. As a ‘small’ pro­du­cer — only 35,000 cases of wine a year — we at Mur­doch James Estate teamed up with anoth­er 21 pro­du­cers and shared the col­lect­ive brand power of the New Zea­l­and Winegrow­ers mar­ket­ing body.

New Zea­l­and is truly attract­ive to inter­na­tion­al buy­ers — par­tic­u­larly those in up-and-com­ing north­ern hemi­sphere mar­kets like Scand­inavia, Canada and Rus­sia. The attrac­tion is based in part on our suc­cess­ful his­tory with Sauvign­on Blanc, but also because of the amount of work New Zea­l­and Winegrow­ers do in main­tain­ing our repu­ta­tion for qual­ity wine. At Pro­Wein 2014, the New Zea­l­and Winegrow­ers mar­ket­ing arm organ­ised and attrac­ted crush­ing crowds of media, trade and punters, all clam­our­ing for mini-tast­ings of Sauvign­on Blanc and Pinot Noir wines from Aotearoa.

Our minus­cule 3 per­cent sup­ply, com­bined with the high status pro­moted by New Zea­l­and Winegrow­ers, means that we still achieve some of the highest export prices for our wines. This is no small achieve­ment. It is fun­da­ment­al to keep­ing a small coun­try, with an over­sup­plied industry, triumphant.

I work for a wine pro­du­cer in Mar­tin­bor­ough, a region that pro­duces 1 per­cent of that 3 per­cent of glob­al wine. Pro­Wein 2014 was suc­cess­ful for us. That suc­cess is attrib­ut­able to New Zealand’s repu­ta­tion for qual­ity wine, and as it turns out, the world loves our lollies.

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