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Frost signals “significantly smaller” vintage for New Zealand harvest

Published:  20 April, 2021

Cooler spring weather and late frosts have led to a “significantly smaller vintage” for 2021, New Zealand Winegrowers has said, applying pressure at a time when the industry is facing increased production costs.

As France and other parts of Europe come to terms with the devasting impact of early April’s spring frosts, the southern hemisphere is also grappling with colder weather patterns.

In New Zealand, where the wine harvest is currently nearing completion, winemakers are reporting lower yields than usual thanks to frost which struck vineyards during the September to December spring growing season.

Ongoing labour shortages due to the closure of New Zealand’s borders and restricted numbers of seasonal workers have also added pressure, the body said.

“We have seen unprecedented demand for New Zealand wine in our key export markets over the past 12 months,” Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers said.

“This meant industry stocks were at low levels going into vintage, a situation that has now been compounded by the smaller harvest. We are already seeing supply and demand tension as a result, and we expect that many wineries will face tough decisions on who they can supply in their key markets over the next year.”

While it is still too early to confirm final numbers, it is clear the overall crop size is down on previous years.

“There will be some variability across different parts of the country, but the industry is anticipating a significantly smaller vintage across several New Zealand wine regions this year,” Gregan added.

Despite the frost however, the body is predicting exceptional quality this year. Thanks to a “superb summer” throughout most of the country, “All reports indicate the quality of the harvest so far is exceptional, and we are looking forward to some fantastic wines coming out of this year’s vintage,” said Gregan.

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

While yields are low, growers and winemakers are hoping the quality of the 2021 harvest will help to support international sales, which remain “strong” in key markets such as the UK, USA, and Australia.