Air New Zealand appoints world renowned wine consultants

Air New Zealand has appointed two of the world’s leading wine judges and commentators to its wine selection programme.
12 June 2015

Linda Murphy is based in Sonoma County in the United States and is one of the world’s most sought after wine judges. Linda is co-author, with Jancis Robinson MW, of American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of United States. She is also Contributing Editor to Food and Wine magazine’s Wine Guide and is a regular contributor to leading wine publications, such as Decanter and WineReviewOnline.

Fongyee Walker is based in Beijing and is the co-founder of Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting, leaders in Chinese wine education and consultancy. She has judged at numerous global wine shows, including the International Wine Challenge in London, and is currently the only person in mainland China to have passed both the Theory and Practical Master of Wine exams. Fongyee writes and judges extensively for many popular Chinese magazines, including Food and Wine and Decanter (China).

Ms Walker and Ms Murphy join the airline’s two existing New Zealand-based wine consultants and judges Jim Harre and John Belsham in the selection of around one million bottles of wine annually.

Air New Zealand Chief Marketing and Customer Officer Mike Tod says the appointment of two leading international wine judges is a further example of the airline’s commitment to delivering a world class and uniquely Kiwi customer experience in all markets it serves.

“Asia and the United States are two critical markets for Air New Zealand and we are incredibly focused on ensuring that all elements of our product and service meet the needs of our growing customer base in these regions. Our wine selection for inflight and in lounges is a key element of our customer experience. Linda and Fongyee will bring an intimate knowledge of which style of New Zealand wines will bring the most enjoyment to customers originating in their respective parts of the world. When combined with Jim and John’s deep understanding of the styles that appeal to Kiwis we expect customers to enjoy their New Zealand wines more than ever,” Mr Tod says.

“New Zealand produces some of the best wine in the world and we are incredibly proud to showcase it on the global stage. Linda and Fongyee will be terrific ambassadors for our nation’s wine through their work internationally and Air New Zealand is going to provide opportunities for Kiwi winemakers to gain insights into the Asian market, especially China, and the United States market to help them further grow their businesses.”

Ms Murphy says she is thrilled to have the opportunity to help further lift the profile of New Zealand wine around the globe.

“The New Zealand wine industry is something Kiwis should feel incredibly proud of. I feel privileged to be given this opportunity by Air New Zealand to help bring the best of it to the world via its award winning international network. I have spent quite a lot of time in New Zealand working with people in the industry, so I have a strong knowledge of the nation’s wine styles and its potential. It will be terrific to deepen my connection with the New Zealand wine industry and to share some of my insights on how it can drive further growth in the United States in particular,” she says.

Ms Walker says New Zealand produces some of the best wine in the world and its popularity is growing strongly in Asia.

“In China where I live, premium New Zealand wine is in strong demand and through events that I will run with Air New Zealand I look forward to encouraging even more people to discover it and then inspire them to travel to where it was produced. And for those who board an Air New Zealand plane in Asia and haven’t tried New Zealand wine I look forward to working with the airline and my fellow consultants to ensure their first taste of the country is even more enjoyable than they imagined it would be,” she says.

Ms Murphy and Ms Walker will be in New Zealand in July to share their experience with Kiwi winemakers. They will take part in their first Air New Zealand wine selection in October.


Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs ph +64 21 747 320