Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


New wine export advisory service

A new wine export advisory business has been formed by Ian Clark, former export and PR manager for New Zealand’s largest family owned winery, Villa Maria, for over 30 years, covering all aspects of exporting the company’s wines, initially to the United Kingdom in mid 1988.

He worked closely alongside Villa Maria Winery founder, Sir George Fistonich, and is keen to bring that experience to the table for new and existing wine brands needing help to secure export markets and promotion in them.

Clark finished working for Villa Maria late last year, 2019. He got into the drinks industry at a young age, due to the late Harold Innes, whose family founded Waikato Breweries and also made soft drinks. Clark’s first job as a schoolboy was to pack beer at Waikato Breweries and later made soft drinks for the Innes Tartan brand, then Schweppes and Coca Cola when Innes secured the franchise for New Zealand. Innes  later sent Clark on an educational trip to the Barossa Valley to work part of a vintage with the late Max Schubert, the founder of Penfolds Grange.

Clark’s work over the past three decades has covered all aspects of exporting New Zealand wine from the inception of the country’s first exports to the United Kingdom in the 1980s. He has also been a wine show judge and worked as the manager of Mission Estate in Hawke’s Bay.

Wine is the fifth biggest export industry in New Zealand and generated a total of $1.86 billion dollars to June 2019, a rise of 8% from the previous year and up from a humble  $1.24 million in 1983.