United Borough: good wines from a vinous village

18 May 2021

Created by the community and sold for charity, Borough brings new meaning to 'good' wine.

Sophie Preece

Wharf birds eye view

The Marlborough wine label was launched late last year, thanks to donations and sponsorship that saw it grown, made, branded, bottled, capped, labelled and marketed for free, as a vinous village sought to help the Graeme Dingle Foundation in Marlborough.

The concept is the brainchild of Geoff Matthews - National Operations Director for Lion’s wine business and a board member for the foundation, which runs resilience and empowerment programmes in most of the region’s schools.

“The Graeme Dingle Foundation offers programmes like Kiwi Can for primary school kids and Career Navigator for students who are about to leave school,” says Geoff. “These programmes really help kids grow and navigate through what can often be difficult and challenging times in their lives.”

Borough is operated through a new company - Socially Good Enterprises – which donates all profits to the foundation, with an expectation of $200,000 to $250,000 in its first year, and more as the concept and support base grows.

That’s an extraordinary boon, says Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough Regional Manager Kelvin Watt, describing the nearly $900,000 a year required to meet the demand from schools in the region, with nearly 60 percent of that from fundraising and sponsorship. “We know our programmes make a difference for our young people, and our community,” he says. “With sustainable funding streams like this, it means we’ll be around to continue helping our young people for many years to come… Thank you doesn’t begin to cover it.”

John Flanagan is one of the growers who donated fruit for the 2020 vintage, and has already put his hand up to support “such a good cause” this year. His children have experienced the Graeme Dingle Foundation programmes, including the Stars mentoring now at Marlborough Girls’ College. And his wife Sal is a teacher, with experience of the positive outcomes of the foundation across the region.

WineWorks – a founding sponsor of the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough – jumped in to help too, donating bottling, warehousing and distribution of the wine. Plant Manager Damien Gillman says the company is “extremely proud” to be part of a collaborative industry effort to make a difference within the community. “This is a cause that many of our team can relate to, with some of our own staff and their children seeing the positive effects of the programme”, he says.

Geoff says interest has boomed since the label’s launch, with strangers stopping him in the street to ask how they can help. With yield expectations down for the 2021 harvest, the next big task is to create a contract that enables growers tied to a wine company to portion off some of their crop for Borough. “The challenge will be in convincing the wine companies to release the fruit,” he adds. Last year’s supply situation made fruit relatively easy to source. “This year it is a different situation and I am interested now to see what happens there.”

Capturing Marlborough

Borough’s label photograph is from Jim Tannock, who sought to capture some of Marlborough’s best-kept secrets, from a surfer at the Awatere River mouth, to walkers in the Wither Hills. Jim’s eight images of quintessential Marlborough locations grace Borough bottles.


This article was first published in issue 126 of New Zealand Winegrower magazine

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