We are getting ready to head into the next harvest. It will be our 5th harvest at Misha’s Vineyard (if you count our first trial harvest of just 1.5 tonnes of Pinot Noir that was made into a Pinot Noir aptly named “The Audition”). We are looking to harvest 150 tonnes of grapes this year – our biggest harvest yet – with 2/3rds of it being Pinot Noir and the rest comprising our aromatic whites.
Generally this period pre-harvest would be the ‘quiet before the storm’ but it seems that’s far from reality as we’re busier than we ever have been, which is not surprising if you consider where we are in terms of building our brand. In November 2009 when we officially launched our range of wines, we announced distribution in 4 markets. Just over a year later, we have added another 7 markets and by mid-year, we expect to have 15 markets in total operating!
Some of the highlights of this past year have been to expand into China with our wonderful Hong Kong distributor, Jebsen Fine Wines, who also represent an amazing collection of brands including Bollinger, Penfolds, Robert Mondavi, Frescobaldi etc. Jebsens Fine Wines Portfolio This is a great step into an exciting market although at this stage, we’ll just focus on the five star hotels in Beijing and Shanghai. Another highlight was our launch in the UK market at Harvey Nichols earlier this year – the most exclusive retailer in the UK. We deliberated long and hard about the best distribution option for us in the UK and are delighted to be working with Indigo Wines. We have also just concluded a deal with an amazingly successful restaurant group in the US and will be working with them over the next 18 months to roll out a special blend of our Pinot Noir to their portfolio of restaurants.
When we first commenced ‘the vineyard project’ we never expected we would be launching our brand at a time of the Global Financial Crisis and also at a time when New Zealand was producing a surplus of grapes. The difficulty of getting a brand established and building distribution channels has never been harder for wineries. For us, launching a brand during these hard times is the only thing we have known – so it’s the ‘normal’ and we’ve managed to overcome the hurdles and barriers. We set the bar high at the outset (our ‘no compromise’ strategy is firmly in place with respect to all aspects of our sales and marketing) and I think the more challenging times have only made us stronger and will certainly hold us in good stead moving forwards.
We’re excited about the year ahead. We have our established markets to support, new markets in which we need to build a brand, and even newer markets to explore and enter. Our adventure is really only beginning and we’re so lucky we have an amazing team with us. We couldn’t do without Olly – our humble genius winemaker – and we certainly couldn’t do without Rich, our amazing vineyard manager/viticulturalist and our very committed and hard-working vineyard crew.
Later this week, Olly and I will be officially launching our 2009 Pinot Noir and our range of 2010 aromatic whites to the media. It will be exciting to show our new release of wines and we’re doing it in style at The Grove in Auckland. Quite simply, it’s Auckland’s best restaurant (and one of the best in the country) and it’s actually the third time we’ve held our new release media event there – no compromises, right?