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Monday, 08 June 2020 12:50

Evolve & survive

Written by  Sophie Preece
New Zealand’s wine industry is adapting to survive and thrive. Inset: Sophie Preece. New Zealand’s wine industry is adapting to survive and thrive. Inset: Sophie Preece.

At Boneline in Waipara, Paul Goodege ferments grapes grown on the fossils of dinosaurs, the bones of moa, and a landscape carved by a glacier.

They’re all poignant symbols that things can change, over millennia or overnight, and that adaptability isn’t a given. Read more about Boneline's evolution here.

Covid-19 has certainly forced change on the world, and New Zealand’s wine industry is adapting to survive and thrive. Individual companies, large and small, have each been faced with shared and unique challenges – from harvesting fruit and selling wine, to planning for the ‘new normal’, whatever that turns out to be.

Those reliant on restaurants were struck a particularly harsh blow, but they’re not out for the count, instead using high tech platforms to tell their (often low tech) rich and authentic stories. Live tastings, webinars and Zoom meetings have become part of the vino vernacular, while companies across the board up the ante on social media. 

Ultimately, borders will open, travellers will return, and winemakers will again fly into markets. But the old normal will not return and nor should it. Digital experts have long urged the wine industry to take advantage of technology and its remarkable ability to beam you into the home or business of your greatest (or potential) fans all around the globe. For all the pain, now and ahead, it’s been a powerful time of learning and connection, with people and with technology. 

A business advisor suggests the industry can survive, adapt and thrive through this period of change. Cloudy Bay’s Estate Director Yang Shen agrees. The Chinese word for crisis combines the characters for danger and opportunity, Yang says. “I do think that the crisis will be gone really quickly, and only opportunity will remain.” 

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