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NZ wineries storm US in group export push

Nine months after its inception, a joint venture between five New Zealand wineries has established its own US importing business and secured distribution into 14 states from New York to California.

While collaborative exporting is touted as essential to New Zealand’s international trading success, Pacific Prime Wines says it's the only business of its type in the billion-dollar Kiwi wine sector, and according to NZTE, a unique model in the F&B export industry.

It consists of five family-owned wineries – Maimai Vineyards, Lake Chalice, Forrest Wines, Seifried Estate and Carrick Wines, each representing a major wine region. And they've pooled resources to tackle a massive market directly.

Pacific Prime set up a subsidiary company in Oregon which drives marketing and sales activities across the continent through a team of staff on the ground, and now boasts exports of more than half a million dollars.

Chairman Chris Seifried says with the US being the largest wine market in the world, the company’s growth prospects are outstanding – it expects to grow sales of its wine brands to $10 million within five years. 

“Pacific Prime Wines has achieved far more than we expected, in a very short space of time. The US market is worth $40 billion and it’s immensely important to New Zealand wine exporters," he says.

Seifried credits local knowledge and strong networks with its rapid growth, even in a highly regulated and competitive market.

Most importantly, he says, it has bypassed the importer tier, allowing direct access to customers and greater control of its brands in the market.

"Having our people on the ground there enables us to create genuine local relationships with our customers – relationships that we own.

"We’re building a position for our brands that has real strength and longevity. That wouldn’t be the case if our wines were sold to a standard third party US importer.”   

According to Seifried, New Zealand has been exporting to the US since the late 1970s, with sales reaching more than $230m this year.