Export effort may see locals miss out

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 22/08/2014

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A booming wine export sector has seen sales reach a record of more than $1.3 billion in the year to June but the foreign clamour for Kiwi wine means New Zealand fans are missing out.

The record earnings were announced in New Zealand Winegrowers' annual report, released yesterday.

NZW chairman Steve Green said "wineries took full advantage of the glorious 2013 vintage to bounce back from the supply constraints" of the previous year.

"The end result was a 10 per cent increase in both export volume and value as overseas sales earned a record $1.33 billion."

This year 445,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested but the export success has led to forecasts of even greater demand.

"The 2014 harvest may seem like a drop in the ocean compared to major producers, but it was a record for New Zealand and signals the drive for export growth in the year ahead."

But in the domestic market there was a different story, Green said in the report. "While the total market continued to hover around 90 million litres, New Zealand wine sales slipped an estimated 6 per cent as wineries continued to prioritise export markets."

Australia remained the leading export destination, accounting for 28 per cent of total export volumes.

Sauvignon blanc was the clear standout within the industry, with Green saying it was a "must-have category in restaurants" and retail stores. "Little surprise then that at 310,000 tonnes, it represented 72 per cent of the total harvest in 2014."

Pinot noir increased production by 15 per cent to 35,500 tonnes with significantly larger harvests in all South Island regions, while chardonnay, pinot gris and merlot all expanded production by between 7 and 8 per cent on the back of strong demand.

The strong sales and forecasted demand generated confidence among growers and wineries, with more than 80 per cent indicating a positive outlook for their businesses for the year ahead.

Confidence was shown in a lift in vineyard and infrastructure development over the past year. Green highlighted that continued commitment to quality, integrity and protecting the national reputation were the foundation of New Zealand wine's iconic status.

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- The Dominion Post

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