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Kiwi winegrowers predict ‘modest’ export growth in spite of good harvest

Published:  25 June, 2018

New Zealand winegrowers are predicting only modest export growth for the coming year in spite of a 6% surge in grape production.

New Zealand Winegrowers today announced a yield of 419,000 tonnes of grapes for Vintage 2018. It said the warm summer produced good ripeness and prompted an early harvest.

But many wineries were hoping for an even larger harvest following a sharp fall in production in 2017, said the trade body’s CEO Philip Gregan.

“We now expect export growth in the year ahead will be modest,” he said. “It will be up to wineries to manage any product shortages from the vintage.”

This year’s harvest was marked by significant growth in yields of Pinot Noir and Merlot grapes, which Gregan says will result in increased production of red wines.

“Production of both Pinot Noir and Merlot has lifted more than 20% on last year, which will be welcomed by both wineries and consumers,” he added.

“These varieties were down sharply in 2017 and it is very positive to see a return to more normal production levels this year.”

Wine is now New Zealand’s fifth largest export, with value up 3% to $1.71 billion in the past year. The US is the country’s biggest wine export market, followed by the UK.

On trade sales of New Zealand wine in the UK have surged by 13.3% last year, according to Accolade Wines’ Wine Nation report. Off trade sales were up 12.2%.

In volume terms, New Zealand wine was the only origin to see double digit growth, with off trade volumes up 11.1% and on trade up 6.7%.

Gregan suggested that the quality of New Zealand’s 2018 crop will appeal to drinkers’ growing willingness to pay more for quality wines.

“Every vintage is different and ultimately the final test is the quality delivered in the bottle to consumers,” he said.

“We are certain that consumers will enjoy the benefits of the warm summer when they get to taste the wines from Vintage 2018.”