Q&A With Invivo Wines Co-Founders Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron
New Zealand’s fastest growing wine is headed to the United States! Invivo Wines will now be sold in the USA at Kroeger stores and other locations through a partnership with nationwide US distributor Seaview Imports. The Invivo Sauvignon Blanc, Invivo Pinot Noir and a special edition Sauvignon Blanc collaboration with popular UK talk show host (and company shareholder) Graham Norton will be available for purchase in the states. It’s a super exciting development for the brand, as they went from just 12,000 bottles in 2014 to 1.5 million bottles in 2017. Wow!
Now, Invivo is approaching production this year of 2 million bottles annually and they currently sell in 17 countries. New Zealand natives and childhood school friends Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron (Invivo’s winemaker), co-founded the company in 2008 and released their first wine: the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Since 2008, Invivo Wines has earned over 150 medals in wine competitions (including the World’s best Sauvignon Blanc trophy in 2011) and 90+ point ratings from leading publications, as well as experiencing 850% sales growth since 2011.
Tim and Rob were nice enough to answer a few questions about Invivo’s exciting expansion!
How did you become interested in wine? How did Invivo get started?
For Rob, he has grew up around wine in his family and he studied Viticulture and Oenology at University. He has spent time winemaking in New Zealand and in 7 countries abroad as diverse as Moldova to wine powerhouse France. For myself however, my background was in marketing working with L’Oreal and Dannon. I was a social wine drinker, however my interest in wine peaked after catching up with Rob, an old school mate for a drink in London. We started chatting about launching our own business, and why not in wine! So unlike many ideas you discuss over a few drinks… we actually made good on this one! I looked into the wine industry from a marketing perspective and saw a few opportunities and ideas from other categories I could take to the wine industry.
Why do you think New Zealand has embraced the wine? What do you think the US market will find most appealing about it?
The world has fallen in love with our style of wines! The way we market and sell our brands, the premium quality is consistent across wineries and we try not to overcomplicate things. Sauvignon Blanc, in particular, has a flavor profile that really appeals to a US consumer. The US is our largest market in the world for New Zealand wine now, we have found US consumers love the balance of fruit and acidity and a wine that works particularly well with food. We are also very active supporting our wine overseas…Kiwis can fly! And many NZ winemakers will be traveling all over the US telling their stories to anyone who will listen!
What is something people would be surprised to learn about the wine-making process?
That there simply is no recipe! Every year is different and has its own unique challenges. We are continually working with different techniques, pushing our own boundaries but still keeping the style of vibrant, punchy flavors that are super delicious to drink.
What is your favorite Invivo wine?
Our Sauvignon Blanc – it was awarded the World’s best sauvignon Blanc trophy in 2011 too!
For those who are new to the Invivo brand, which wine do you recommend they try first?
Either the Graham Norton Sauvignon Blanc Or Invivo Sauvignon Blanc.
Tell us about your wine collaboration with the UK’s chat show host Graham Norton.
We produce wines with Graham (the UK’s Jimmy Fallon!) every year and film the blending – you can see it on youtube. Graham Norton’s Sauvignon Blanc is now available in the US.
Photos courtesy of Invivo Wines