Wednesday, 20 November 2019 10:57

Raising the bar on NZ Pinot

Written by  Tessa Nicholson
Pinot Noir 2021 promises to be bigger and more New Zealand centric than ever before. Pinot Noir 2021 promises to be bigger and more New Zealand centric than ever before.

Changes are afoot for New Zealand’s next Pinot Noir Celebration. Tessa Nicholson looks at how organisers are raising the bar.

Celebrating 20 years since the very first Pinot Noir event, 2021 promises to be bigger and more New Zealand centric than ever before. The organising committee, known as ‘The Bunch’ are determined to build on the legacy of Pinot Noir NZ 2017, where our sense of place, turangawaewae, became an aspirational byword. 

Co-chairs Penelope Naish and Helen Masters took the planning to the road recently to share the vision and plans for the upcoming event with New Zealand Pinot producers throughout the country. 

Pinot 2021 will take place in Christchurch, from 23-25 February with 120 New Zealand Pinot producers expected to take part. In total close to 1000 Pinot lovers will be involved including 600 key influencers, leaders and visionaries from around the world.

Naish says while our Pinot wines will be the star attraction, there will also be intellectual and robust discussion, and plenty of tastings to stimulate the senses. Keynotes from a line up of New Zealand and international speakers will take place across the three morning sessions, along with panel-led formal International and New Zealand Tastings on day two and three. Like the previous event, the afternoons will again focus on free flow tasting sessions, where attendees will get the chance to spend one on one time with wineries to taste and talk directly with the producers. 

The move of the event to Christchurch brings some exciting opportunities for a fresh approach, Naish says, and also some fantastic new venues. 

Te Pae, the new conference centre currently under construction in Christchurch, will be the main event hub. Te Pae will be a “stunning, first class international conference centre”, she says. 

“With 360 degree views of the region, it has plenty of natural light, great air conditioning and the very latest in technology. We are really looking forward to showcasing our wines in this venue.”

Some strong themes are developing, although Masters says this is a process that will continue to evolve. The four key themes will focus on Place, Care, Kinship and Connection. The themes will also build on and further develop on the overarching theme from 2017, Turangawaewae – a place to put one’s feet, a place to stand, a place to which one belongs. “This year we want to take it one step further – how have we been shaped by the land?” Further details on the themes will be shared in the coming months.

The roadshow which visited five Pinot regions during the August tour placed emphasis on how all regions will be able to reflect the themes within their own interactions with attendees, and through their afternoon tasting sessions.

“We want people to really give attendees a feel for what their region is about,” Masters said. “Who and what is Marlborough? Who and what is Central Otago? Who and what is North Canterbury? How can you communicate that? How can you show that in the way that your regional room is set up? The more your room reflects your region, the stronger the story is.”

Masters also encouraged all wineries to consider who should be on the guest list and let their regional Pinot 2021 committee member know.

“If you come across someone on your travels who you think should be considered, maybe a sommelier, a new influencer, a new wine writer, someone who may be left of field, you need to tell your regional representative. Because we want to ensure we get the best people here, and provide you unparalleled access to those people, so you can get your wines in front of them, and get to know them better.”

New Zealand Winegrowers will fund 80 international delegates to attend Pinot Noir 2021, while the organisers will be bringing in around 10 international speakers. 

A major social media push will accompany the events prior, during and after to ensure maximum coverage. 

To start that media push off, Masters asked all Pinot producers to include the hashtag #pinotnoirnz on all relevant social media posts from here on in. Even though the event is still 17 months away, creating interest and building the conversation for Pinot Noir NZ 2021 begins now. 

The committee

Helen Masters (Co-Chair) – Winemaker, Ata Rangi

Penelope Naish (Co-Chair) – General Manager, Black Estate

Natalie Christensen – Senior Winemaker, Yealands

Paul Donaldson – General Manager, Pegasus Bay

Aaron Drummond – General Manager, Craggy Range

Rosie Finn – Marketing and Sales Director, Neudorf

Alistair King – Accountant, Findex

Wilco Lam – Winemaker, Dry River

Nick Mills – Winemaker, Rippon

Paul Pujol – General Manager and Winemaker, Prophets Rock

Mark Shaw – Director, Social Guy

New Global Marketing Director, New Zealand Winegrowers

Pinot Noir NZ 2021

Christchurch

23-25 February 2021

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