Winery growth a good sign
Expansion projects by Marlborough wine companies reflect optimism in the future, industry members say.
Mt Riley Wines is one of several Marlborough wineries to have future-proofed its production in the past few months.
Chief winemaker Matt Murphy said the family-owned and operated winery had added two new tanks, taking total processing capacity to 2100 tonnes.
They had also upgraded the refrigeration system to be ready for any expansion needed in the future, he said.
"The upgrade had been in the pipeline for two or three years, and we are feeling very optimistic with where the industry is heading."
Treasury Wine Estate New Zealand production manager Richard Gardner said the expansion of the Jacksons Rd winery, Matua Marlborough, was on schedule to be completed for the 2013 harvest.
The expansion was one of the international wine company's most significant investments, Mr Gardner said.
"We have a lot of optimism about our Marlborough brand, and we've got the ability to grow, hence the investment."
The project, which included an upgrade of services to cater for the expansion from a 15,000 tonne capacity to 25,000 tonne capacity, was expected to run into the tens of millions of dollars, he said.
They were using mostly Marlborough companies for the work, including Davidson Group Ltd, which had the main engineering contract and had worked on previous expansions for the company.
The work on a new wastewater system, which includes a two kilometre-long pipeline to discharge wastewater on to Marlborough District Council-owned land, was to the highest possible standards, he said.
"We expect Marlborough will tighten up its wastewater policies, so the new system is future-proofing us, and will be able to handle future expansion. It is important for us to be ahead of the curve."
New Zealand Winegrowers board member Dominic Pecchenino said the industry was a lot more positive than at this time last year.
Marlborough had responded to the challenges of a series of big harvests since 2008, combined with the impact of economic crises in markets, and carved out a niche for itself around sauvignon blanc, Mr Pecchenino said.
"The situation is looking good on both sides of the coin with wineries and grape growers in a good position this year.
"Our markets are also continuing to move, it looks like we're on our way back to where we were."
The industry had learned from the damage caused by oversupply and would be careful to ensure sustainable growth, he said.
- The Marlborough Express