Wine exports from New Zealand hit a new record in the year to March, according to recent figures.

The country's New Zealand Winegrowers trade body said late last week that exports for the year to March rose by 16% in value terms on the corresponding period a year ago, hitting NZ$766m (US$603.7m) in total.

Although the results set a new record for the country, exports could have been higher still in 2007/08.

"Export growth for the year to March was constrained by supply shortages of key varieties which restricted export volumes and the high value of the New Zealand dollar, which impacted export returns," said the organisation's CEO, Philip Gregan.

Over the past decade, New Zealand's wine export volumes have risen at a compound annual growth rate of 19% per annum and 26% per annum for the last five years, the organisation noted.

"In our key markets, such as the UK, Australia, USA and Canada, there is strong and rising demand for our wines," Gregan continued. "The increased volumes of wine expected from vintage 2008 will help satisfy this demand and will enable new and developing markets such as Asia to be developed.

"In addition the superb summer weather should ensure the new vintage delivers excellent wines into the market which will add further to our international reputation."

New Zealand Winegrowers has set an export target of NZ$1bn by 2010.