Rob Fyfe ex Air NZ CEO has finger in pie of winemaker Craggy Range who aspires to be a 1000 year brand

Taking New Zealand wine and helping add value as it seeks export markets -- that’s what CEO of Icebreaker Rob Fyfe hopes to accomplish when he assumes the role of strategic advisor with Craggy Range.

Craggy Range today announced Fyfe’s appointment as strategic advisor for the company. This means Fyfe’s involvement will straddle three industries - the clothing (Icebreaker), wine and jewellery (through his directorship at Michael Hill).

Fyfe is keen to extend the price points for New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs. He says: “Globally New Zealand’s reputation has been forged with great value, mid-priced Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs. There’s a big opportunity to gain recognition and reputation outside those varieties and mid-range price points.”

Successful winemakers often take time to develop, he says. “When you look at what has taken centuries to create in Europe and compare to what the Peabody family and the Craggy Range team have created in a little over a decade, it’s actually inspiring – and is a testament to the power of the family’s vision and the relentless and uncompromising focus on execution.”

For him, wine becomes alive when there is a strong connection between the land that produces the grapes and the craft and artistry that go into the making of the wine.

“The thing I love about wine is the sense of connection it creates to the ‘place’, the terroir of where the grapes are grown. To me, understanding and appreciating wine creates another dimension of feeling connected to the land, the history, the sense of place that is New Zealand.

“When that sense of place is combined with a depth of story, with the craft of artisans and winemakers whose skills and knowledge have been perfected over centuries and passed down through generations, that’s when a wine comes to life for me.”

The former CEO of Air New Zealand has been working on a consultancy basis with Craggy Range, for more than 12 months. The move formalises his involvement with the winery that was recently named the New World Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast.

Craggy Range is a family-owned winery established in 1997. It is situated in the shadow of the Te Mata Peak in Hawkes Bay.

Fyfe says owner of Craggy Range, Terry Peabody’s, dream is to create a 1,000-year brand with Craggy Range. The Peabodys, according to Fyfe, recognised from the outset that to succeed and create a global brand - the story and legacy they dream of – is an inter-generational project.

Fyfe has about 40 dozen cases of wine of his own but travel commitments mean he has not as much time as he would like to enjoy his own cellar. His favourite tipples? “I have a gorgeous magnum of one of Craggy Range’s finest, Le Sol, that I am saving for a very special occasion as well as a few gold medal winning Pinot Noirs that were a gift from the last Air New Zealand Wine Awards I attended as CEO in 2012.”

Peabody says of the appointment: “We are delighted Rob has agreed to formalise his involvement with Craggy Range. Rob’s experience with New Zealand brands is invaluable in supporting Craggy Range’s ambitions to grow its export markets.”