PLB Group Wine Buying Manager Neville Harris with Andy
For most of March, we were in Europe working with two of our new distributors, PLB Group
in the UK and Gastro-Wine
in Denmark and Sweden.
Our first stop was the UK with Andy heading straight to Scotland for the first leg of the trade tour with our distributor, whilst I skipped the last flight sector and instead stopped off in London to spend a day with PLB’s on-trade man on the ground Nico Kowalski! We received fantastic feedback on the wines over the course of the day and it was great way to get some early restaurant listings!
Our new UK distributor, PLB Group, which is the largest independent family wine business in the UK, has been putting a lot of effort into expanding their portfolio to ensure the on-trade and independent retail customers were well taken care of by adding new premium wine brands and ensuring they have the right team to focus in this area. We were delighted last year when the PLB revamped their New Zealand offering and announced Misha’s Vineyard as part of their portfolio. http://www.plb.co.uk/news/article/183-plb-launches-new-look-new-zealand-portfolio-.htm However things didn’t start until the PLB Roadshow in March of this year which was an opportunity to showcase all the new wine ranges from UK in a series of their own tasting events.
Misha has a short time without tasters at the Manchester tasting!
Andy handled the Edinburgh leg of the PLB tour on the 4th March we met in Manchester for the second event at a wonderful venue – the People’s History Museum! After another great day of tastings, it was a long bus ride with the PLB team down to London to get ready for the third and final leg of the tour. The final day in London was at a stunning venue called One Great George Street, in the heart of Wesminster! At all three locations the feedback on our wines was just fabulous and there were many visitors tweeting about our wines being one of the highlights of the tasting event! It’s nice to get that sort of feedback especially when you’re with a new distributor – needless to say, the PLB team were all smiles as well! We had a final celebratory end-of-tour evening with the PLB team and all the wineries at the Cinnamon Club – a fantastic night! That wasn’t it for the UK, the next morning we had scheduled a full morning of Misha’s Vineyard training for all the PLB sales team in a private room at Davy’s – one of their customers. We finished with a lunch at Davy’s and promised the PLB team we’d be back later in the year!
The Misha’s Vineyard wine dinner at Copenhagen’s Madsvinet restaurant
Next stop on our trip was Denmark – and it was Andy’s first visit to the country! We love Denmark – such an easy-going place with incredibly friendly people. Our distributor here is a new division of a company that’s a specialist importer called C&E Gastro-Imports, who have been in business for 25 years. Founded by Erik Nielsen, Gastro-Import has over 1400 specialist gourmet food products from France, Italy and Spain and they distribute those products to specialist retailers and restaurants in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Erik has now established Gastro-Wine, and now sourcing premium wines from artisan producers around the world.
Training the team at Gastro Wines in Denmark
Gastro-Wine has set up a special cellar/tasting room in the heart of Copenhagen where we held various trade dinners and tasting events. It’s a great space and we discovered the products that Gastro-Imports has, are wonderful products to pair with our wines! We also hosted a fabulous wine dinner at a restaurant called Madsvinet (literally ‘food pig’ but I’m assured it sounds better in Danish) where some of our current trade customers, plus some other invited trade folks attending for a great evening of inventive food matches by Chef Rolf!
From Denmark, we flew to Sweden and straight to the Gastro-Imports office just out of Stockholm. The office/workshop also has a full kitchen and we were able to have a dinner for 25 trade guests within the office! Their office is conveniently located next door to the Scandinavian Wine Academy and owners Dick and Britta Samuelsson also attended our wine dinner. Then Andy and I headed off in our rental car and drove 6 hours south through forests of Sweden (with me sleeping most of the way) to find Kosta – a small town close to nowhere! Smaland, one of Sweden’s large provinces, is a region is dominated by huge forests – something that was important back in 1742 when glass started being made in this region, as the glassworks needed a lot of wood to for the furnaces! It has become the glass-blowing capital of Sweden and some of the famous names of glass include Orrefors and of course Kosta Boda. http://www.kostaboda.com/
Misha & Andy with Dragan Unic at the amazing Glass Bar at Kosta Boda Art Hotel
Our destination was the Kosta Boda Art Hotel, where one of Gastro-Wines former employees, Dragan Unic had gone to head up F&B at the hotel and was keen to have the first New Zealand wine dinner there! We were treated to a lovely room at the amazing hotel and a guided tour by Dragan. We started our Misha’s Vineyard wine dinner in the glass bar of the hotel where literally everything was made of glass – quite an amazing feat – and then we moved into the restaurant for a degustation dinner. We were delighted to hear the chef Andrew was an Australia, who had lived in Sweden for many years. He proved his skills during the night with exquisite food served on the most superb array of glass plates!
After a very successful wine dinner (which we learned people had driven 3 hours to attend!), we drove to Helsingborg on the west coast of Sweden to meet up with some more of the Gastro team located there, including the MD of the Sweden operations, Andreas. Then we jumped on a train for the short trip back to Copenhagen. But it was not over – Erik and Christoffer had more activities planned for us – training of the Danish Gastro-Imports team, a tour of their Denmark facility and another wine dinner at the Copenhagen tasting room.
Finally finished with the work side of things, Andy and I had a couple of days to explore Copenhagen which we really enjoyed! We also had a final lunch with Erik and Chris from Gastro-Wine at the Danish Design Museum (who is now also a customer) which was just amazing!
After such a busy schedule, we were ready to return home but we had added a final stop to our European tour – to The Netherlands where we stayed with old friends. We are working on finding a distributor in The Netherlands so did a little work to try and make this happen – fingers crossed. Our return sector to New Zealand was a long one – and included a daytime in Singapore which we put to good use to meet with Crystal Wines, our Singapore distributor. But when we arrived back in Queenstown, we realised it had been 48 hours since we’d left The Netherlands. Exhausted? – you just can’t imagine!