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The Kiwi Dozen come to town

Published:  23 July, 2008

New Zealand wine family The Twelve came to London last Monday hot on the heels from similar events in San Francisco and New York, to explain their initiative and show their wines.

Nigel Greening of Felton Road, who was in charge of the London event, told Harpers: The French go out and burn buildings but we go about it in a more positive way. The conversations started two years ago, and we wanted to form an effective lobbying group and be spokespeople for artisan wines.

All the families had to be family-owned - no listed companies, because that is what we are up against - and we wanted to champion private, family companies making artisan wines,' he said.

We had no fixed number, but fewer than 10 and it lacked critical mass, while 20 was too many, so we felt 12 as the "unit of wine" was a convenient number. We then looked at six from North Island and six from South Island, someone representing every region, every varietal and all price points,' said Greening.

The Twelve does not want to be seen as a breakaway group from the New Zealand Wine Growers (NZWG) and it also works closely with Trade NZ, New Zealand's export council where it provides 50% grants for export initiatives and events. The Twelve were in San Francisco on 21 June and New York on the 24th.

There is a lot of work to be done in the US. New Zealand wines are known in San Francisco and New York, but in the rest of America, they think we are part of Australia. We can trailblaze, in that Moscow may be too esoteric for NZWG, but The Twelve can go to places like Russia and Japan - it's like "guerrilla marketing".

We had the opportunity to send wine to a Cannes drinks party. The decision took less than 15 minutes; we hold mixed cases and we could turn round and say: "The wines are on their way".'