Indevin invests in major vine planting to meet upswing

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 10:50 25/09/2013
Indevin has leased land on SH1 near Seddon where it is planting 124 hectares in sauvignon blanc vines.
EMMA ALLEN/Fairfax NZ

GROWTH AGAIN: Indevin has leased land on SH1 near Seddon where it is planting 124 hectares in sauvignon blanc vines.

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New Zealand's largest wine producer is developing a 124-hectare vineyard in the Awatere Valley to meet growing international demand for Marlborough sauvignon blanc.

Indevin is just one of New Zealand's corporate wine companies to roll out vineyard development since the industry swung back into a state of undersupply following the small 2012 vintage.

Pernod Ricard, Marisco Vineyards, Ara Wines and Delegat's Wine Estate are also in the process of expanding their Marlborough vineyards - the first large-scale developments since the global financial crisis hit in 2008.

Indevin chief executive Duncan McFarlane said yesterday the Awatere Valley development was the start of a five-year plan to grow its fruit supply in Marlborough, Hawke's Bay and Gisborne.

"It's definitely exciting to be back in a growth phase again, which is in response to the growing demand for wine in our export markets," he said. "There is a real need to continue expansion because obviously our [sales and markets] have been growing through the downturn, while vineyard development has stagnated."

Indevin has access to grapes from more than 1500ha of vineyards across the country, mostly through contract growers.

"The real challenge is to manage growth and ensure it is profitable right the way along the supply chain," Mr McFarlane said.

Indevin, owned by a group of New Zealand shareholders, is leasing the land from the Boyce family, which had farmed in the Awatere Valley for 100 years.

The lease includes the use of a 250 million litre reservoir to irrigate the vines.

Indevin general manager viticulture Shane Speakman said that after about four months of minor earthworks to prepare the land, planting of the 270,000 vines was well under way.

The company was "optimistic" of a small harvest in 2015, and expected to reach full production in three years, Mr Speakman said.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said it was good to see new vineyard developments rolling out.

He was not able to provide any data about growth of vineyard area in Marlborough until the end of next month, when the results of the organisation's 2013 vineyard survey would be released.

"The message we're getting from a number of wineries is we are back in a supply shortage mode, with strong demand for New Zealand wine." However, any new developments needed to proceed with caution, Mr Gregan said.

"We always hope new vineyard developments are well planned, thought through and market-led.

"We saw a lot of speculative investment leading up to 2008, and some people learned some long hard lessons and we don't want a repeat of that."

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- The Marlborough Express

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