Graham’s larger-than-life personality and expert wine blending skills shone through at 43 yards wide and eight meters high at New Zealand’s national sports stadium. The 50,000 seat Auckland stadium was opened exclusively for Tim and Rob, who were situated on the halfway line and looking up at the Irish television host on the big screen.
It was game-on as Ireland-based Norton dialled in his Kiwi business partners from his home in West Cork at 8pm in the evening.
Invivo Co-founders Tim and Rob had couriered seven Sauvignon Blanc samples to Graham, harvested in New Zealand in March this year, along with a winemaking kit filled with beakers, which Graham set-up at home.
Tim and Rob, 11,378 miles and 12 hours ahead of Norton, arranged their winemaking kit on the pitch at Eden Park Stadium.
Over a two-hour live-stream, the trio collaborated to create and sign off Graham Norton’s Own Sauvignon Blanc 2021 vintage.
Graham said: “It was a lot of fun blending the wine and seeing the guys live at Eden Park stadium – I kept on expecting someone with a lawn mower to appear in the background.”
“I’m delighted with this year’s new Sauvignon Blanc blend. It’s a classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, it’s a grown-up wine and it’s elegant and delicious.
“It’s surreal thinking that our little collaboration together that started out all those years ago is now all over the world.
“I’m amazed, and proud of it too. I don’t just put my name to the wines, I’m involved and I love being part of the process.”
Norton’s collaboration with Invivo & Co goes from strength to strength as the business partners recently celebrated producing their 10 millionth bottle of wine together, and are set to produce their fifteenth millionth bottle of wine this vintage; a landmark moment since their first run of 14,000 bottles of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in 2014.
Invivo cofounder Tim Lightbourne added: “After zooming Graham on a laptop and our winery boardroom TV screen for over a year now, Rob and I decided to take Graham to the big screen.
“We thought there would be something pretty special about Graham being live on the country’s biggest screen (43 yards) and our largest stadium at 8am in the morning.
“We were not wrong – running down the tunnel onto the pitch was fantastic, Rob and I have certainly fulfilled a few childhood dreams today.
“We could tell Graham was also excited when we showed him live on the big screen at Eden Park stadium.
“The team at Eden Park were great to work with, we even had the home team changing room to get ready in – it really felt like game day.”