New Zealand: Wine sales up 11% over the past year

June 14, 2011

Wine sales are up 11% year on year, as wineries harvest 23% more grapes after a reduced harvest in 2010, in response to rising sales of New Zealand wine.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive officer Philip Gregan said wine sales have been very strong over the past year, equivalent to 310,000 tonnes of grapes.

"A larger harvest was needed in 2011 to rebuild inventory and to support current and future sales," he said.

"With lower stocks in winery cellars, this has prompted a grape intake this year of 328,000 tonnes of grapes, slightly up on our pre-harvest expectation of around 310,000 tonnes."

It's not the same news right across the country though.

The 2011 vintage growth was driven by larger harvest in most South Island regions, such as Nelson, Marlborough and Central Otago.

"This growth was fuelled by generally very good weather, which produced larger crops of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

"The expectations for the Sauvignon Blanc vintage are very positive given the ideal weather that prevailed during autumn."

However the vintage was smaller in the North Island regions such as Gisborne and the Hawkes Bay, where production of leading varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah fell compared to 2010.

"Nevertheless we expect some excellent wines to be produced, albeit in slightly smaller volumes than last year.

"With the vintage now over, we believe the wineries and growers can look to the year ahead with cautious optimism," Mr Gregan said.

"The vintage should support sales growth of up to seven per cent for June year end 2012, which will be another step forward in the recovery of the sector."

Profitability levels remain an ongoing concern for the industry, and Mr Gregan said recovery of winery and grower incomes should be a focus for all industry participants this year.