“They’re small, they’re family-driven, family-focused, they understand the story,” Glover says.
Mahana Estates has flirted with a corporate model of distribution in the past, but Glover says it didn’t suit the wine company at all. He says the story behind Mahana’s product was viewed as “almost getting in the way” of selling the wine, and feels it was treated as something of a commodity.
Glover is confident that Kemp Wine Merchants will offer a different experience.
“Dan [Kemp] and his team really understand what we are trying to achieve at Mahana and we believe they will represent us very well in the New Zealand market. It seems to me that Dan’s focus is the people at the heart of wine drinking and wine making and that really resonates with me.”
Glover feels strongly that the future of premium products lies in artisan production models and integrity-led small businesses. Twenty years ago, he says, the top labels in the wine market were Penfolds Grange and other Australian corporate labels – while these wines were elite, the provenance of these blends was “somewhat suspect” and their production was not transparent.
“In wine, the opposite direction is this philosophy of terroir… where you’re buying the place.”
Terroir is a French winemaking term referring to the natural environment in which a wine is produced. Blended wines lose their terroir, says Glover, who feels blending creates wines which are heading towards being simply “a beverage”.
Glover feels it’s important for producers of artisan products such as his wine to be true to their creative vision, and trust that the market will understand. There’s a place for “commodity beverages”, he says, but New Zealand can do better – “We have to evolve”.
“To me, the corporate model is dead.”
Winemaking isn’t the only industry where an artisan approach rooted in a sense of place seems to be gaining popularity.
A number of new ecommerce ventures have sprung up to cater to consumer demand for SME-made independent products. Etsy-style marketplace The Market was launched in 2013 and went global in 2015, while New Plymouth operation Shop Small and Fairfax Media’s newest project Indexed both launched this year.