New Zealand wine exports have jumped 62% according to the official trade organisation.

July and August this year have set new records for exports, Philip Gregan of New Zealand Winegrowers said.

July exports went up 62% on the same month last year, to 3.7m litres. August exports were 5.1m litres, a rise of 63% on last year.

2004 was a record vintage with some companies – like Montana – increasing their crush by 50%. Gregan said the industry had anticipated ‘very rapid international sales growth this year.’

New Zealand expects to export around 45m litres in the year July 2004-July 2005.

Wineries in New Zealand continue to increase. As of March 2004 there were 460 wineries, double the number in 1996. According to New Zealand Winegrowers a new winery opens every four days.

The country exported exactly half its producion last year. Exports in 2003-04 were 31.1m litres valued at NZ$302.6m. Domestic consumption was at 35.5m litres.

The US is becoming an increasingly important market for New Zealand. In the year up to February 2004, exports to the US increased by 27%, with Montana’s exports going up 66%.

Americans are drinking more wine, and more of it is imported, according to statistics. While consumption per head is still only half that of Australia or the UK, the volume of imported table wines went up by over 13% in 2002, the last available figures.

The UK is New Zealand’s biggest importer, taking 44% of its wine. The US takes 26% and Australia 19%.

Written by Adam Lechmere , and agencies