New Zealand’s wine exports hit a new high last year, rising 8.2 percent to NZ$1.37bn, according to the country’s wine marketing body.

Vineyards at Greystone Wines, which won the International Trophy for Pinot Noir priced above £15 at the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards.

New Zealand Winegrowers
said wine became the country’s sixth biggest export commodity last year, albeit still lagging traditional product sectors such as dairy products and meat.

The news comes as New Zealand’s 2015 grape harvest gets under way, with prospects so far looking good in quality terms – although it is set to be ‘significantly smaller’ than the record 2014 crop.

New Zealand Winegrowers’ CEO, Philip Gregan, said ‘superb’ summer weather had enhanced the chances of a top quality harvest in 2015.

‘The warm, dry summer of 2015 has been absolutely perfect for growing and ripening grapes,’ he added.

‘As we move into autumn, the prospect is for an outstanding, albeit smaller, vintage in all our grape-growing regions.’

Crop levels are likely to be well down on 2014’s record harvest, when some 445,000 tonnes of grapes were picked, up 29% on the year before.

However, Gregan said sales in the year ahead would be supported by retained stocks from last year’s bumper vintage.

New Zealand’s wine exports have more than doubled in volume terms since 2008, with export value rising by more than 60% over the same timescale.

Australia, the US and the UK dominate export demand for the country’s wines – and for Sauvignon Blanc in particular – but markets such as the Netherlands and Germany have also grown strongly in the past few years.

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Written by Richard Woodard