Tim Lightbourne: Wine maker Invivo teams with Sarah Jessica Parker

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Waikato wine producer Invivo has teamed up with Sex in the City star Sarah Jessica Parker to develop Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé wines. The collaboration, which Invivo points out is not an endorsement, will see the American actress choose the grape variety and final blend, label and name the wines on an ongoing, annual basis.Invivo was started in 2008 by Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron, and found its feet internationally following a collaboration with Irish talk show host Graham Norton. Lightbourne told Mike Hosking that they wanted to replicate that success with a different celebrity. He says it took a long time to negotiate with Sarah Jessica Parker but the actress is keen to get involved. "It was a mutual contact through we were introduced. For us, we had the first phone call where she spoke about how passionate she is about wine and how keen she is to do the project, and that was a no-brainer for us after that." Lightbourne says that they do have traction in the US, but they are hopeful that this new publicity program will The company had been selling the Invivo brand for a while before they teamed with Graham Norton, and saw an instant change in how they were received. "When we got Graham Norton on board, it just opened a lot of doors for us. A lot of buyers wouldn't return our calls in the early days, but getting [Norton] involved in the process, it opened doors and we were able to then present to retailers." Parker will attend the Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé launch event in New Zealand later in the year where the wine will be revealed. In a statement, Parker said she looked forward to being involved in developing the wines. "I'm so looking forward to every single stage of the creation. I intend to be very hands-on throughout the process, as I am with all my endeavours, and could not be partnering with a better brand than Invivo," she said. "I am a true wine lover and I love including wine in family dinners and occasions with friends so this is a very exciting and fun project for me." Invivo first collaborated with Norton in 2014. In the first year it sold 12,000 bottles, today after five years it forecasts to exceed three million. In October Invivo branched into the spirits market, releasing a Graham Norton gin in Ireland. Sales of that were "going bananas", Lightbourne said. The company recently changed its name to Invivo & Co to reflect its expansion into other categories. The wine created in collaboration with Parker will be sold into the US and locally. "Sauvignon Blanc in the States is flying [off shelves] and I think as an industry we are only scratching the surface. There's huge potential." Lightbourne says New Zealand is not well known for rose, but "we will be soon" after the Parker project. "We're not seeing too much of a drop off outside of summer," he told Mike Hosking. "We think there's a lot of opportunity for rose." Norton holds a 0.73 per cent stake in the company. Parker, together with Invivo, have created Invivo USA, which she has a shareholding in. The company would not disclose Parker's stake the US company.

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