New Zealand Actor Sam Neill Peddles Wine

The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 30, 2007; 8:53 AM

HONG KONG -- One of New Zealand's most famous exports, actor Sam Neill, brought his boutique line of wines to Hong Kong on Tuesday, and urged a rapidly expanding Chinese market to consider buying bottles from his country's vineyards.

Neill signed bottles of wine for customers and posed for pictures at a downtown organic food store that will exclusively carry four Two Paddocks wines _ a Sauvignon Blanc, a Riesling and a Merlot, all from 2003, and a 2004 Pinot Noir.

Hong Kong is viewed as a launching pad for businesses targeting the Chinese market, but asked about his expansion plans for the mainland, where wine is popular among the newly rich, Neill said Two Paddocks wasn't the type of vineyard geared up for huge markets such as China's.

"We're a boutique winery. I think if we started expanding into China we'd be swallowed up in a minute," he said.

Two Paddocks runs three vineyards in the Central Otago region of New Zealand's south island. Neill said they produce 3,000 cases of wine a year.

Still, Neill said he's pleased about the prospect of a new market in China.

"I'm very happy to hear that people are beginning to drink wine up here because there's a whole world of wines to discover. We're particularly proud of our wines from Central Otago," he said.

Neill's acting credits include "The Piano," "Jurassic Park" and "The Hunt for Red October."


© 2007 The Associated Press