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North Canterbury wine makes a difference

21 February 2018

A collaboration between two award-winning North Canterbury wineries, a family-owned grape harvesting company and several other generous donors is producing wine with a difference.

The couple behind the project-turned-wine-label are still reeling from its early success.

Alanna and Pete Chapman initially started 27Seconds as a one-off fundraiser for Hagar – an international NGO that helps survivors of modern-day slavery.

“We wanted to help so we created delicious wine, where 100% of the profits go to survivors," says Alanna.

"It was only meant to be a one-off fundraiser. But as we sort of delved deeper, it snowballed into a company."

Terrace Edge, which is owned by Pete’s parents, provided the grapes for 27Seconds’ first run of wine and Omihi Creek Harvesting, a long-standing local operation, harvested them for free. Greystone Wines, which is just up the road from Terrace Edge, did the winemaking and various others jumped on board to help too.

Alanna says it was while working in Hagar’s office in Christchurch, where she worked for three years, that she learned that every 27 seconds a person is trafficked into slavery. And it was in India, while walking through the alleyways of Sonagachi in Calcutta, the country’s largest red-light district, that she and Pete witnessed it first-hand.

“We were visiting friends who run a business called Freeset, which works with women who want to get out of prostitution. A lot of the women who work with Freeset have come from Sonagachi, where [they] line the streets side by side – that’s the shop essentially.

“It was just so obvious that some of the women were from another country and we were told they had been trafficked from Nepal and sold into prostitution. That was when it hit us that we were seeing faces of modern day slavery."

Alanna and Pete, a viticulturist who works on the family vineyard, realised wine was one way they could help.

“We love the idea that something accessible, like wine, can be used for good. It empowers people to make a difference through just a single choice.”

Alanna says the combined generosity of the wine community meant that 27Seconds was able to give away $10 from every $17-$23 bottle in the first run of wine.

“Greystone, for example, have been amazing. They gave a serious discount on the winemaking. We're hoping to raise about $90,000 from this run."

And the generosity doesn’t end there.

Kiwi bottle supplier O-I halved its prices, another company provided free caps and local designer Piet van Leeuwen of Port Edison did the labels pro bono.

“We love our labels. We’re super proud of them. Piet wanted to portray the name itself so that’s why there are 27 dots on the front and there are three dots that you can’t see as well. The idea behind that is once someone has been sold it is sort of like an ending," Alanna says.

“It’s a really morbid topic but there is hope as well. There are things that can be put in place that reduce trafficking. We wanted it to be a hopeful brand as well so that’s why the colours are quite bright.”

27Seconds’ Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Rosé are available online and Alanna says there are plans to start selling wholesale to local restaurants.

“A few have approached us so it’s watch this space but we are really keen to do that. We’re hoping that more people will find out about our brand and who we are and hopefully in a few years’ time we might go into a supermarket or something like that.”

Alanna says the project wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible support it received.

“The generosity and support has been outstanding. I don’t know if it’s just Kiwis in general but we have had so many messages of encouragement.

“There does sort of seem to be this spirit of social enterprise growing in Christchurch. I think there is something bubbling away there.”

Three bottles of 27Seconds wine can provide a young survivor with a school uniform, shoes and stationery for a year, five can provide a bike to get to school and seven bottles every month can put a survivor through university.

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