Otago is now the country's third-largest wine-producing region.
Historically, Otago has been fourth, behind Gisborne, but figures just released by New Zealand Winegrowers show Otago how has 1787 hectares of grapes, or 5 per cent of the country's vineyards, compared to Gisborne's 1617ha.
The new data reflected the hectares of vineyards per region, not the yield.
Marlborough continued to be the country's largest wine-producing region, with 66 per cent of the vineyards, or 22,587ha. Hawke's Bay is second with 4841ha of grapes, or 14 per cent of vineyards.
The owner of Bannockburn's Carrick Wines, Steve Green, said the figures reflected the growing interest in pinot noir worldwide, particularly from Central Otago, which he said had a "huge reputation.
"The positive thing really is that New Zealand, and Central Otago in particular, is making really good pinot noir and as long as that worldwide interest continues to climb, it augurs really well for New Zealand having a second key varietal after sauvignon blanc."
The downside of the new data was confirmation that some Gisborne vineyards had been removed during the past couple of years. The region mainly grew chardonnay and aromatic varieties that had decreased in popularity.
Mr Green predicted Central Otago's wine industry would continue to grow but at a more measured pace.
The figures were included in the 2012 Vineyard Register Report, which New Zealand Winegrowers' sustainability general manager Philip Manson said contained the most accurate statistics on vineyard productivity produced in the past decade.
The report included data from 1841 vineyards.
Fifty-eight per cent of the country's grapes were sauvignon blanc, followed by pinot noir at 15 per cent. Despite the decline in popularity, chardonnay was still the third-most commonly planted variety at 9 per cent and pinot gris was fourth on 7 per cent.
The new Vineyard Register replaces New Zealand Winegrowers' annual Vineyard Survey.
Mr Manson said it would now be compulsory for vineyards to complete the vineyard register before taking part in New Zealand Winegrowers' events.
- The Southland Times
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