Mr Fyfe has been working in a consultancy capacity with Craggy Range, for more than 12 months. The move formalises his involvement with the winery that was recently named the New World Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast.
A former CEO of Air New Zealand, Mr Fyfe says his long-standing passion for businesses and NZ brands are behind his decision to accept the role.
“I love the challenge of supporting world class New Zealand businesses to realise their potential on the world stage. There are many businesses both here and offshore with an outstanding product or service with the need to forge a global brand position, distribution strategy and infrastructure to fulfil the possibilities.
“Craggy Range is similarly placed. Owners, the Peabody family have the ambition to craft wines that are regarded amongst the world’s finest. The vision, the ambition, the quality of the wines and the experience of the team supporting the brand are inspiring and well placed for me to contribute to the strategic vision of the business.”
“We are delighted Rob has agreed to formalise his involvement with Craggy Range,” says Craggy Range owner Terry Peabody. “His global business credentials are second to none and that’s where our challenges lie, building brand awareness and distribution internationally.
“Rob’s experience with New Zealand brands is invaluable in supporting Craggy Range’s ambitions to grow its export markets,” Mr Peabody says.
Mr Fyfe says the underlying principles of running any business transcend an individual category.
“I have a vision of Craggy Range being the wine that international wine experts and wine drinkers immediately think of when they appraise the best and the new classic world wines. I want New Zealanders to feel proud that their country is producing wines that are recognised as among the world’s best.”
He says there is a great correlation between Icebreaker and Craggy Range where exploring the challenges and opportunities between the two presents an excellent chance to look at each from the perspective of a different industry.
“It’s healthy to be involved in three different industries – wine, jewellery – through my Michael Hill directorship – and outdoor apparel to cross fertilise ideas and experience between each of them.”
He says Craggy Range wine is already world class so the biggest challenge is about growing brand awareness and building distribution in international markets.
“When you look at what has taken centuries to create in Europe and compare to what the Peabody family and the Craggy Range team have created in a little over a decade, it’s actually inspiring – and is testament to the power of the family’s vision and the relentless and uncompromising focus on execution.
“However, globally New Zealand’s reputation has been forged with great value, mid-priced Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs. There’s a big opportunity to gain recognition and reputation outside those varieties and mid-range price points.”
He says what Craggy Range is doing stands it apart from many other New Zealand wine brands.
“The Peabodys have committed to creating new world classic wines that will extend New Zealand’s reputation in to prestige varietals and blends at a scale that is competitive on the world stage.
“But more than that, they have recognised from the outset that to succeed and create the brand – the story and legacy they dream of – this must be an inter-generational project. Terry’s dream is that he can create a 1,000 year brand with Craggy Range and that is our goal.”
In addition to his renowned business skills, Mr Fyfe brings to Craggy Range a strong interest in and knowledge of New Zealand wines nurtured during his international postings and more recently at Air New Zealand through the annual wine awards.
“The thing I love about wine is the sense of connection it creates to the ‘place’, the terroir of where the grapes are grown. To me, understanding and appreciating wine creates another dimension of feeling connected to the land, the history, the sense of place that is New Zealand.
“When that sense of place is combined with a depth of story, with the craft of artisans and winemakers whose skills and knowledge have been perfected over centuries and passed down through generations, that’s when a wine comes to life for me.”
Mr Fyfe has about 40 dozen cases of wine of his own but travel commitments mean he has not as much time as he would like to enjoy his own cellar.
His favourite tipples? “I have a gorgeous magnum of one of Craggy Range’s finest, Le Sol, that I am saving for a very special occasion as well as a few gold medal winning Pinot Noirs that were a gift from the last Air New Zealand Wine Awards I attended as CEO in 2012.”
Mr Fyfe says he’s loving his life after leaving Air NZ. “I’ve never been so inspired as I am now through my involvement with Icebreaker, Craggy Range, Michael Hill and Antarctica New Zealand …I just wish I had more hours in my day.”