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The Reputation that Keeps on Growing - New Winery Heralds New Era for Saint Clair Estate Wines17 March 2006
Judy and Neal Ibbotson, Winery Opening 2006 Saturday, 11 March 2006 brought with it the official opening of a new, high-tech, $10 million winery for Saint Clair Estate Wines.
The opening is significant not only to Marlborough's continued development as the powerhouse of the New Zealand wine industry but also important in the continued evolution and high growth of Saint Clair Estate Wines. Neal and Judy Ibbotson are recognised as viticulture pioneers in the region with early plantings from 1978. They have contributed hugely to the growth of the region and are now taking their family- owned company to a new level with this winery that will, in time, double current production levels.
Neal Ibbotson comments, “We have been building up to this opening for some time and it really is a significant event in Saint Clair’s short but colourful history. We are proud of our wines and the biggest issue we have faced is supply and demand – with the global recognition we have achieved over the last few years demand is at an all time high so we are delighted we will now be able to increase production levels. This is a great moment for our family and team – especially our chief winemaker, Matt Thomson.”
Current production levels for 2006 will be at around 250,000 cases. The New Zealand market remains very important to Saint Clair and is currently a high growth market with approximately 25 per cent of sales made at home. The balance of 75 per cent is exported with increased production levels allowing Saint Clair to grow already successful markets in the UK, Australia, USA, Ireland, Scandinavia and to a lesser extent Europe and Asia.
Neal and Judy Ibbotson celebrated with close friends and family, The Hon Lianne Dalziel, His Worship the Mayor of Blenheim, key local business people and the largest gathering of the wine industry in the local area for well over a year.
Also joining the celebrations were international visitors including Saint Clair's distributors from the US, Singapore, Czechoslovakia, Australia, and New Caledonia, all 30 of Saint Clair’s contract growers and a large number of owners of prominent local wineries.
The Hon Lianne Dalziel comments, “I have been honored to be involved in this significant winery opening. The New Zealand wine industry is incredibly important to our economy – it offers a high growth export industry especially for Sauvignon Blanc, which now totals 72 per cent of total exports. Saint Clair produce New Zealand’s most awarded Sauvignon Blanc - Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc. This was not only a celebration of the opening of a winery but the celebration of two pioneers and their work on the local land which has contributed to the success of the region.”
Saint Clair Estate Wines began in 1994 and has received a multitude of prestigious awards and trophies from around the world. They now have five significant regional vineyard sites and an excellent knowledge of which varieties grow best at each site. This is – and will remain - a family-owned business - shareholders are Neal and Judy Ibbotson only, three of their children have roles within the business. The Ibbotson’s have over 100 hectares of land in Marlborough.
The Hon Lianne Dalziel marked the opening by ringing the new Saint Clair bell that will eventually take pride of place above the main entrance.