New Zealand: Smaller grape harvest good news

18 June, 2010

The 2010 New Zealand grape harvest totalled 266,000 tonnes, 19,000 tonnes smaller than the 2009 crop and in line with the pre-harvest forecast.

The pre-harvest forecast suggested a grape intake of between 265,000 and 285,000 tonnes from a producing area estimated to have been 33,200 ha - up 2,000 ha on 2009.

New Zealand Winegrowers’ CEO Philip Gregan, said the vintage represented another step forward for grape growers and wineries as they respond to current market challenges.

“Most importantly, this year’s vintage quality should be excellent,” Gregan said.

“Although the harvest was slightly later than last year, wonderful weather in March and April, combined with lower yields ensure superb fruit was delivered into wineries. Above all else, this confirms the industry’s focus on, and commitment to quality.”

Gregan said, “Growers and wineries will also welcome the smaller vintage.

“A reduced harvest was planned for by many growers and wineries as supply imbalances over the past two years, combined with the global recession, have created some real challenges for producers.

“The smaller vintage will assist in the re-balancing and recovery of the sector over the next year or so.”

The 2010 harvest was lower in most of New Zealand’s key winegrowing regions. In Marlborough, the vintage was down five percent, with production of the signature variety Sauvignon Blanc four percent lower than in 2009. The Hawkes Bay crop was also down five percent, while the harvest in Gisborne reduced 21 percent from 2009.

In Central Otago production was unchanged on 2009, but in Waipara, Canterbury and Northland the harvest was larger this year. Smaller vintages were recorded in Auckland, Waikato, Wairarapa and Nelson.

Gregan said he did not expect the smaller crop to affect export volumes over the next year.

“Despite the tough global environment, export volumes have risen 27 percent over the past 12 months. Over the next year we expect export volumes to remain near current levels as wineries draw down on existing inventory.

“Managing supply to export markets continues to be a key priority for growers and wineries, to ensure the premium positioning of New Zealand wine is protected.”

David Cox, New Zealand Winegrowers’ European Director added: “The confirmation that the size of the 2010 vintage has declined is particularly welcome as it assists greatly in ensuring that the supply / demand ratio gets back into balance and this is vitally important for the UK market. We now have the opportunity to concentrate fully on the premium and super-premium segment which represents New Zealand’s ‘sweet spot’ and where consumers seem very comfortable.”

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