Wineries toast new growth

22:30, Feb 18 2013
Neal Ibbotson
Saint Clair Family Estate owner Neal Ibbotson

Marlborough wine sales have continued to grow despite the high New Zealand dollar, Saint Clair Family Estate owner Neal Ibbotson says.

The high dollar would have been one factor in vineyard and winery receiverships in Marlborough during the past three years, Mr Ibbotson said yesterday. However, improved efficiency at other vineyards and wineries had helped counter problems caused by the dollar.

Saint Clair, one of the biggest family-owned wine companies in Marlborough, exported about 75 per cent of its production to more than 60 markets, Mr Ibbotson said.

In some markets, the company increased prices to compensate for the inflated kiwi dollar but this did not work well in areas such as Britain.

Early feedback suggested 8-10 per cent annual growth in this market could stall turnover.

Saint Clair dropped its prices in Britain in 2008-09 when Marlborough grapes and wine were in over-supply, Mr Ibbotson said. However, the strengthening dollar meant they soon crept back to their original level.


Lake Chalice Wines Ltd managing director Phil Binnie said the Renwick company was feeling the squeeze of a high US dollar, despite exporting only a small proportion of its wines.

When Lake Chalice set quotes for the US market 18 months ago, the kiwi dollar was buying US75 cents, Mr Binnie said.

"Anything above that goes off our bottom line."

The medium-sized wine company exported 20 per cent of its production to markets that included Germany, Britain, Ireland, Singapore and Australia as well as the US.

"The dollar goes up and it goes down like the tide going in and out and we have to try to deal with it," Mr Binnie said.

The company sold in New Zealand dollars, which worked for the company some years. In others, it went against it.

The Marlborough Express