Strengthening The Appellation Marlborough Wine Promise

Appellation Marlborough Wine (AMW) is extending and strengthening its guardianship of New Zealand’s largest wine growing region by updating its criteria for inclusion from 2022.
  • The internationally recognised and trademarked organisation has expanded certification to all Marlborough grown varietals.
  • From early this year, each submitted Sauvignon Blanc is tasted blind by an independent panel to authenticate the wine as a true representation of the region.

“Appellation Marlborough is a pioneering and evolving organisation,” says Ivan Sutherland, AMW chair and co-founder of Dog Point Vineyards. “These recent refinements strengthen our quality standards and add further credibility to the original values of our appellation.”

“Every wine comes through the tasting panel reinforced as a great example of Marlborough,” says AMW committee member and Lawson’s Dry Hills’ group marketing manager, Belinda Jackson. “This additional process strengthens our proposition that AMW wines are authentically Marlborough.”

Appellation Marlborough Wine was introduced in 2018 to protect ‘Brand Marlborough’ by establishing standards and criteria that provide reassurance to the consumer and enhance the credibility of member’s wines. To date, AMW has focused its attention on the region’s most iconic varietal, Sauvignon Blanc, seeing it as the most at risk. AMW’s 50 plus members voted that the organisation was now in a position to include all varietals under their accreditation umbrella. They also agreed that the tasting of all submitted Sauvignon Blancs was an important refinement of their certification process.

There has always been a tasting component to the AMW certification process, determined by (source vineyard) yield, but extending it to all Sauvignon Blancs will increase credibility of the brand, says Belinda. “Members agree that regardless of yield a wine could still be misrepresentative.”

Sophie Parker-Thomson MW, AMW committee member and co-owner of Blank Canvas Wines, says some trade have asked where the “teeth” of AMW are. “How are you guaranteeing quality?” Tasting was an important next step, she says. “We’ve created a robust, independent, and blind tasting process to ensure that all AMW certified Sauvignon Blancs will be representative of -Marlborough. AMW stands for quality, integrity and authenticity. We want to offer consumers an assurance of a wine with typicity and concentration.”

Sophie says it was important to start with Sauvignon Blanc when looking to protect the Marlborough brand and reputation. “Sauvignon quality has been scrutinised the most, so it is paramount that AMW provides additional assurance, via this objective tasting process, that all wines bearing the AMW certification are worthy of it. And because Marlborough is not just about Sauvignon Blanc, it makes sense for AMW to now extend to other varieties as well.”

AMW coordinator Amanda McRae says several members have commenced the process of certifying their 2021 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. “It has always been the plan to incorporate the broader Marlborough wine offering, but we wanted to start AMW with our region’s flagship varietal and get all the right protocols in place. Just a few years in and it’s clear that AMW provides value to our Sauvignon Blanc. Members were quick to agree that it was time to extend the certification programme to other varietals.”

The inclusion of all Marlborough grown varietals under AMW will further enhance the region’s reputation as a quality wine producing appellation, says Ivan. “Marlborough’s distinct cool climate growing conditions are equally well suited to the production of other quality wines.” Sauvignon Blanc was the reason for AMW’s establishment, agrees Belinda. “But AMW is a Marlborough organisation, so it is important that we protect our industry's future in its entirety and respect our precious and unique wine styles.”

Member producers are committed to ensuring all AMW certified wines are representative of high-quality Marlborough says Ivan. “We are working collectively to safeguard Marlborough’s wine reputation and future.”



Appellation Marlborough Wine™ was established in 2018 with a strict certification process that the region’s producers are able to apply for. AMW is trademarked in all key global wine markets and it is the legal recognition that sets it apart from other new world certification practises.

Wines bearing the Appellation Marlborough Wine (AMW) quality mark provide consumers the following guarantees:

ORIGIN – Wines are made from grapes that are 100% sourced from Marlborough.

AUTHENTICITY – Wines must be bottled in New Zealand.

INTEGRITY – All Sauvignon Blanc wines are tasted blind by an independent panel of qualified, experienced local winemakers. All other wines must be made from grapes cropped at or below set parameters, based on each varietal. If a proposed wine (excluding Sauvignon Blanc) contains any portion exceeding the set parameters, it must also be approved by the aforementioned panel.

SUSTAINABILITY – Vineyards are certified by a recognised sustainable viticulture scheme.



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