26 Aug 2015

Annual wine sector conference opens in Napier

2:08 pm on 26 August 2015

Great wines start with growing the grapes, and that's the focus of the annual Romeo Bragato Conference which has opened in Napier today.

It's the largest gathering of the year for the wine sector, and New Zealand Winegrowers chair Steve Green says it has drawn about 500 representatives to Hawke's Bay.

"We talk a lot about quality - and the importance of quality is part of the New Zealand wine story, but I guess the Bragato conference gives us the opportunity to look at the various components of how we can produce quality wine and quality fruit.

"The success of New Zealand wine is as much dependent on how the grapes are grown as to how it's made, and of course that also reflects on things like regionality and variety and all those aspects. We talk about wine being made in the vineyard and it's very true and it comes to the fore in a conference like the Bragato."

Mr Green says a lot has changed in the wine industry since its darkest year in 2008, when it was hit with the perfect storm of the global financial crisis, a big vintage and falling markets.

"Wine is now New Zealand's sixth biggest export earner and that's a pretty significant leap forward."

The winners of the Bragato wine awards, which recognise growers, will be announced tomorrow night, along with the winning young viticulturist of the year.