Peregrine signs US deal

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Toasting the future: From left, Vineyard Brands New Zealand brand manager Tommy Oldre, president and chief executive Greg Doody, Peregrine Wines managing director Lindsay McLachlan and chief executive Fraser McLachlan

Central Otago wine maker Peregrine Wines is on the verge of a significant distribution deal which will mean its wines being distributed throughout the United States. Otago Daily Times business editor Dene Mackenzie traverses the deal

Peregrine Wines boss Fraser McLachlan is unashamedly enthusiastic about the deal he and his co-directors Lindsay and Jude McLachlan have signed with Vineyard Brands

The deal will mean the full range of Peregrine wines being distributed to every state in the United States, a significant increase on the pinot noir and sauvignon blanc which had been selling in selected states in the past few years.

Fraser McLachlan told the Otago Daily Times Peregrine had been in a working relationship with Vineyard Brands for six or seven years.

“It started out with a couple of wines but they have decided to take our full portfolio which is bubbly right through to the late harvest riesling. It is very humbling to have this opportunity to show what Central Otago can do.”

The factor which clinched the deal for Peregrine was it being a family business. Before Peregrine, Vineyard dealt with Villa Maria. The deal, signed earlier this month, is an opportunity to build on the relationship started six or seven years ago, he says.

Although McLachlan declined to disclose the volume of wine Peregrine sold to the US, because of market sensitivities, the new deal would mean a 50 per cent increase in production.

He’s quick to assure the newspaper there is still plenty of wine to service both the domestic and US markets.

Peregrine, although based in Gibbston valley, regarded itself as a Central Otago winemaker. It is developing 11ha in Bendigo and also uses grapes from Pisa and some fruit from a small number of other growers. The wine itself is all made at the Gibbston Valley winery.

Peregrine has been bucking the national trend when it comes to exports, McLachlan says.

About 70 per cent of wine made in New Zealand is exported but it’s the opposite for Peregrine, which has New Zealand and Australia as its largest market.

And most of the market growth in the US, which was now the world’s largest consumer of wine, is from Marlborough savignon blanc.

“We’ve stayed close to home to start with and now we are expanding offshore.”

Vineyard president and boss Greg Doody visited Peregrine for the second time this month to cement the deal, McLachlan says.

McLachlan travels to the US about four times a year and has developed a strong working relationship with Doody and the Vineyard staff.

Lindsay McLachlan, the managing director, says the deal gives the winery the reach into the world’s biggest wine market with nationwide placement, a market to which the family had never envisaged it would have access.

“We’re absolutely thrilled they have selected us, delighted they enjoy the wines and recognise the quality. What we have here is a long-term channel to be able to take the wines we’re really proud of to a huge wine market, something we couldn’t do without them.”

Doody says his company is choosey about whom it worked with but it had loved the wines and people at Peregrine.

“We’re a family business and so are they. We have a good track record of working with families looking to the future, planting for their children or grandchildren.”

There was a good story to tell about Peregrine and Central Otago back in the US and that was important to Vineyard when it was just more than a delivery service.

Vineyard staff can “sell the story” to its distributors and their sales representatives can then sell it to retail outlets and restaurants, he says.

Although the Vineyard Brands company was founded in 1979, Doody says the founding family originally started in 1928 with one Burgundy vineyard.

“We still work with that vineyard so that’s proof we tend to stick with people and they stick with us, which is good news for Peregrine.”

Fraser McLachlan says the winery is actively engaging with clients and customers in the United States through social media, something which would help tell the story of the family-owned business.

Peregrine made its first vintage in 1998 and produced pinot noir, rose, chardonnay, pinot gris, riesling, sauvignon blanc and sparkling wine.

Otago Daily Times