You would have had to be hiding under a rock for the past 12 months not to have heard about…
The International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration that saw more than 70 wineries from New Zealand and around the world on display, attracted close to 400 delegates. Over three days the delights of Sauvignon Blanc in all its forms were revealed to delegates, which included 65 international wine media, 10 Masters of Wine, sommeliers, winemakers and 30 guest speakers.
Now plans are well underway for New Zealand Winegrowers’ Sauvignon 2019, which while it will be again focusing on our flagship variety, will not be a direct repeat of the inaugural event, according to Committee Chair Patrick Materman.
“There will be a fundamental change in the people we are targeting this time around,” he says. “The influencers will be more the lifestyle bloggers and those on social media, rather than just the wine media. That is a conscious thing, because if you look at how Sauvignon Blanc sells, it is very much tied in with the lifestyle aspect. So this is a fundamental change.”
With the aim of creating the “most memorable Sauvignon Blanc conference in the world”, next year’s event will blend the technical and marketing aspects of the variety with a programme that provides those attending, with unforgettable experiences. For example, Materman says the first night will see delegates transported into the heart of the Awatere Valley, to Paripuma Lodge. This classic property that looks out over Cloudy Bay is renowned in the region for its raw and rugged outlook and award winning native garden.
A Gala Dinner will take place on the second night, at Brancott Vineyard, once again featuring a World of Wearable Art show.
“For the international guests this is as unique to New Zealand as Sauvignon Blanc, so it is going to be a real highlight,” Materman says.
Delegates will then get the chance to move from Gala to casual, with a night at the Marisco River Hut planned for the third night.
Themes for each of the days have been finalised, with day one focusing on the international differences of Sauvignon Blanc. Day two will have a technical focus and incorporate a tasting of the classic “Fresh” style of Sauvignon Blanc.
The final day will open delegates eyes to the “savoury” side of Sauvignon, or as Materman puts it – the alterative styles that are making their mark in the world. There will also be a focus on route to market.
“We are really keen to explore how different cultures approach wine and how we can connect with those consumers in different markets.”
An underlying theme throughout will be sustainability given this is a lynchpin for New Zealand Winegrowers.
The inaugural event had a social media reach that was second to none.
Both #nzwine and #SauvignonNZ reached millions of people throughout the world. From tracking twitter, #nzwine had 4,288 posts and appeared on 46 million timelines. #SauvignonNZ had 2,500 posts and appeared on 10 million timelines. It also trended at number one in New Zealand during the three days and number seven in Australia.
Organisers of next year’s event are planning on increasing that domination.
An event coordinator is about to be announced, and both sponsorship and a superb guest speaker list are well progressed. There will be more details on these aspects in future issues.
Preceding Sauvignon 2019, the NZSVO will hold a one-day Sauvignon Blanc workshop. The NZW Sommit™ which brings sommeliers from throughout the world to New Zealand, will take place around Sauvignon 2019, and a sparkling and Chardonnay symposium, to be held in Gisborne, will follow.