The Central Otago wine industry is to be part of the Digital Clusters Initiative pilot programme.
"In some ways I feel like my new role is a continuation of that work," says the new General Manager of the Central Otago Wine Association (COWA). "I am very excited about where we are now and where we are headed. COWA has a lot of potential and I want to see that come through."
Jake trained in winemaking and viticulture, before working in the vineyards at Peregrine for two years. He loved working with his hands, comparing the work to therapy. "But there's only so much therapy you need," and in 2013 he moved into wine tourism, establishing a high end wine tour company in Queenstown. "Covid put a hard end to that one," he says "100 percent of my bookings went out the window."
But that blow - coinciding with the birth of his son - brought the opportunity of joining COWA, and helping the region's wine industry reach its ambitions. "I would like to see Central Otago put amongst the upper echelons of the best wine regions in the world," he says. That is a process, "and we are definitely well on our way to getting there as a region", he adds. "Central Otago has achieved a huge status and reputation in the time we have been active... I am really excited to be a part of that journey."
Covid has added plenty of hurdles, and right now the association is organising events, when "timing is all over the show". He is quietly confident the region will have the labour it needs for vintage, but with the season progressing quickly, with the warmest start since 2018, there is plenty to do in the vineyard over the growing season, and "extra hands might be required".
COWA has also appointed Anne Pullar as independent Chair of its board, and Jake says the expertise and skills she brings to the role will help drive the region's success. Anne was formerly Deputy Chief Executive of Central Otago District Council and head of Tourism Central Otago during a very strategic phase in the evolution of the Central Otago brand, says Jake. "Her ongoing work in the community, extensive network of contacts throughout Central Otago and New Zealand, and her wealth of expertise will be a significant contribution to COWA."