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Looking ahead: Chris Stroud, marketing manager Europe, New Zealand Winegrowers

Published:  09 August, 2019

As the first half of 2019 draws to a close, Harpers asked key trade figures to highlight the current challenges, ongoing trends and opportunities

We continue our series with insights from Chris Stroud, marketing manager Europe, New Zealand Winegrowers

How has the first half of 2019 been when compared to the same period in 2018?

Globally New Zealand wine exports continue to grow and are now worth $1.82bn in value and up 6% by volume and 7% by value June MAT 2019 compared to June MAT 2018.

In the UK exports are up 15% by value and 11% by volume in the same period. The value of exports to the UK surpassed $400m for the first time.

What were the highs and lows for NZ Wine in the first six months of 2019?

We held the second International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration in January 2019 which was a great success with over 70 media and trade from around the world coming to Marlborough to participate and explore the complexity of Sauvignon Blanc with the majority going on to visit many other regions.

Here in the UK, we have held many successful events with a particular highlight being a collaboration with the Loire to celebrate Sauvignon Blanc from these two regions which generated significant interest and coverage.

As a low, it was very sad to see the recent closure last month of kiwi institution The Providores and Tapa Room after 18 successful years. Chef Peter Gordon had a huge impact on the restaurant scene in London with this ground-breaking venue in so many ways, especially with its New Zealand only wine list. It was also the restaurant that launched the flat white, small plate dining, Kiwi-style brunches, Fusion dishes and so much more to the London dining scene. However its legacy will live on with many of its alumni establishing their own successful businesses

What, currently, are the biggest challenges for the trade?

Continued uncertainty around Brexit and the impact it is having. Wine in the on-trade is also struggling with significant declines in both volume and value as a whole.

Will you be preparing in any way for a second potential ‘no deal’ or some deal Brexit day on 31 October and, if so, how?

We are constantly keeping our members updated with the current situation. As it stands, a no deal Brexit seems very likely, so we recommend that all our members who export to the EU or the UK are prepared for this scenario.

What will the focus be on with regard to your portfolio (and any updates) and why?

We will be celebrating New Zealand Organic Wine Week in September with a masterclass and discussion on the growing relevance of this category. We will also be holding an event in November to showcase our Lighter Wines category. Our New Release Tasting takes place at the end of October which is a first look at the latest vintage releases from New Zealand – and by all accounts quality is looking excellent.

For you, what are the most significant emerging trends in the drinks world?

The low and no alcohol sector is a definite growing trend.

However, New Zealand is at the forefront of establishing a new lighter wine category with the NZ Lighter Programme. This is the largest research initiative ever undertaken by the New Zealand wine industry.

NZ Lighter Wines focuses on the natural production of lighter-in-alcohol wines (defined as wines containing less than 10% alcohol by volume).

The challenge is not simply to produce high-quality, lighter-in-alcohol wines, but to naturally lower the alcohol content without compromising flavour and varietal expression. This research will also benefit winemakers wanting to manage the alcohol spectrum across all wine styles.

What innovations in the drinks world do you believe will have the most impact going forward?

Sustainability is a very important topic across all facets of the wine production process as there is more consideration now given to the environment. Therefore, an increase in sustainable and organic / biodynamic products as well as alternative, recyclable and environmentally friendly forms of packaging.

What, for you, would make for a perfect summer?

To wake up and Brexit has all been a bad dream?

Warm sunny days to encourage people to go out and enjoy a glass or two of New Zealand’s cool, fresh whites and lighter reds.

England has already won the cricket world cup (with apologies to my New Zealand colleagues). Next on the bucket list would be an Ashes win (although that is currently looking unlikely).

Finally looking forward to two weeks in Southern Italy with the family.