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NZW announces “outstanding” vintage but smaller than expected crop

Published:  26 June, 2020

New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) has declared the 2020 vintage “outstanding” despite adverse Covid-19 conditions. 

An “excellent summer" throughout most of the country had contributed to an outstanding vintage across New Zealand’s wine regions, said the generic body. 

“Although Covid-19 restrictions did have a huge impact on the way the harvest was run, they will not affect the quality of the wine, and we are really looking forward to some exceptional wines coming from this year’s vintage” said Philip Gregan, CEO of NZW.

The industry had however hoped for a larger harvest this year, following “smaller than expected’ crops over the last three years, to support current sales levels and to rebuild stocks, said NZW.

A total of 457,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested this year.

While production is up 11% on 2019, wine production is estimated to be less than 3% above current sales levels. As a result, sales growth in the year ahead would “be modest, albeit there is more uncertainty than normal due to Covid-19”.

NZW said it was confident the 2020 wines would “only enhance the country’s international reputation for premium and sustainable wines”.  

“Positively, the reputation of our wine remains strong in our key international markets, and our wines continue to resonate with both consumers and the trade. While the world has changed, what has not changed is the love that people have for New Zealand wine,” said Gregan.

With New Zealand moving into Alert Level 4 just as vintage 2020 began, the industry was “acutely aware that it was in an incredibly privileged position to be allowed to pick the grapes”, said Gregan.

“Throughout the entire lockdown our number one priority remained – ensuring the safety of our people and our communities. The fact that harvest was completed safely, testifies to how our industry fully embraced the challenges to meet the strict Covid-19 requirements.”

New Zealand wine sales for the 12 months to 30 June 2020 are estimated to be 334 million litres, up 4% on the previous year, with exports  up 6% on last year, and currently valued at $1.92bn. Export volume is estimated to be 284 million litres, up 5%. 

Wine is New Zealand’s sixth largest export good, and New Zealand wine is exported to more than 100 countries.

Earlier this month, NZW called on the UK to come with a "fresh attitude" as the beginning of trade negotiations were announced.