New Zealand wineries are looking to target the high value US market in the next five years with sales expected to reach NZ$241 (US$m) by 2005/2006. Sales in 2000/2001 were NZ$40m.

While the UK remains the most important market in terms of volumes, Institute chief executive Philip Gregan said: "The value of returns we are getting from the United States is looking to better the UK sales."

Wine sales to the US jumped 34% in 2000/2001 to NZ$40m.

Overall The New Zealand Wine Institute said it expected a 21% growth in exports for the 2002 vintage, boosted by thousands of hectares of new vines coming on stream.

Exports totalled NZ$198m in the year ending June 2001, with 47% going to the UK and 20% making its way to the US.