WineWorks, New Zealand’s largest, independent wine bottling and warehousing provider, officially opens its new multi-million dollar facility in Onehunga on Friday (7 October, 2016) and at the same time toasts 21 years of being in business.

The new state-of-the art plant was more than eight years in the planning. It took almost 12 months to construct and covers two hectares. One of the tallest buildings in Onehunga, it is located in what Managing Director Tim Nowell-Usticke calls the ‘sweet spot’ of the wine industry’s supply chain.

“Here we have easy access to rail, the ports, the airport, industry suppliers and supermarket distribution centres. In addition, the country’s only glassworks is just down the road, and New Zealand’s largest wine market is right on our doorstep.”

WineWorks and its national team of 340 staff provide services to over half the wineries in the country, through operations in Auckland, Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough.

 “Marlborough may be the engine room of the New Zealand wine industry, and certainly Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay are the great places to grow wine, but Auckland is where New Zealand’s wine industry was founded and where the country’s biggest wineries are headquartered. We need to be here.”

Tim says the Auckland plant is an evolution of technology compared with their other plants as it houses the fastest wine filler in New Zealand, which at full speed can bottle enough wine to fill two 20 foot export containers every hour.

“We have the latest technology in bottling and in satellite racking storage. As a group we handle over 120 million bottles every year and our warehouses hold more than 60 million bottles of wine at any given time. Our bottling equipment caters for both large runs and also those wineries wanting to bottle smaller parcels of wine.”

Over the decades WineWorks has grown with their customers, says Tim. “They have got bigger, and so, therefore have we. It’s a true partnership, where we work very closely together on multiple touch points. Our relationships are based on faith and trust. One of our company values is that we must consider the customer in every decision we make.”

WineWorks is recognised internationally for its processes, and its filling lines have been confirmed by independent audit as being in the top three of all bottling lines sampled throughout Australasia. These lines achieve very low levels of dissolved oxygen pickup, a key criteria for winemakers to judge bottling quality.

In addition, WineWorks currently carries 14 international certifications, the result of quality work recognised through an arduous annual audit programme that secures global relationships with the likes of BRC, Tesco and Walmart to name a few.

It was a somewhat different scenario 21 years ago, when Tim Nowell-Usticke first decided to develop a ‘behind-the-scenes back shed’ to support the wine producers of Hawke’s Bay.

A qualified engineer by trade and from a farming background in Hawke’s Bay, Tim returned to his hometown of Hastings after intrepid journeys ultimately led to him to working in food packaging facilities in Australia. He returned home in 1995 to raise a family and was also driven by a desire to establish a regional food-processing plant.

“I wanted to take a primary product and by processing it, add value to that product. I wanted that increased value to be captured by the region, to enhance regional prosperity. WineWorks was a way to help keep vitality, jobs and wealth in the region where it was produced.”

Twenty one years ago Tim discovered a young and vibrant grape growing industry, and he listened to wineries who said that by providing the mechanical process of bottling, wine warehousing and distribution along with other complementary services, WineWorks would enable wineries to focus on their core business.

“Today we provide the infrastructure to support a thriving wine industry. We add industrial expertise, allowing wineries to focus on what they are good at, and what makes them prosper – growing, making and marketing great New Zealand wine to the world.”

In addition to the services it initially offered, WineWorks services now include wine transportation, laboratory services and worldwide distribution. The company also supports elements of the winemaking process particularly for sparkling wine and makes and bottles other beverages like cider and soft drinks at its Hawke’s Bay facility.

“We offer industrial expertise, commitment, and targeted investment typically unavailable to individual wineries. We work in partnership with them to minimise the investment, effort and worry they need to expend on that part of their supply chain.”

Now the twenty-first milestone has been celebrated, and with the new plant open, what lies ahead for WineWorks?

For Tim and his team, further expansion is not a current consideration. Instead, he says, it’s time to consolidate.

“We have been through 21 years of growth and change, and with the Auckland plant now operational it’s time to concentrate on continuing to provide the levels of service our customers have come to expect over those years. The New Zealand wine industry is going from strength to strength. We have a unique product to sell to the world, and WineWorks will continue to support the industry and provide it with what they ask for over the next 21 years and beyond.”