New Zealands wine harvest this year has come in lower than last years

New Zealand's wine harvest this year has come in lower than last year's

This year's wine harvest in New Zealand has come in lower than 2011, returning the country to the levels it hit in 2010, according to figures released late last week.

Data from New Zealand Winegrowers shows that the wine grape harvest in 2012 totalled 269,000 tonnes, a fall of 18% on 2011. The performance is in-line with 2010, and is the country's fourth-largest overall.

The harvest will produce in the region of 194m litres of wine, the trade body said, below current annual sales volumes of around 240m litres.

The largest wine-producing region, Marlborough, saw its harvest come in 23% down on 2011 at just under 189,000 tonnes. Hawkes Bay registered an 8% dip to almost 33,000 tonnes.

Most varieties recorded production falls in 2012, with Sauvignon Blanc production falling by 19% to 181,000 tonnes. The varietal represented 69% of the harvest, the same as last year, with 90% being sourced from Marlborough.

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were the second- and third-ranked varieties. Pinot Noir production fell by 25% to 23,000 tonnes reflecting lower production in Marlborough, Nelson and Waipara. Chardonnay production - also at 23,000 tonnes - was down by 11%.

“Following a cool spring and summer, the expectation amongst growers and wineries was that the 2012 grape harvest would be smaller than last year,” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“Going into harvest, the concern amongst growers and wineries was whether Autumn would deliver the weather the grapes needed to ripen fully. Fortunately, in most of our growing regions, April saw excellent vintage conditions with many warm dry days and cool nights.

“The result is that we expect there will be plenty of vintage highlights … albeit in smaller volume than 2011.”

Gregan noted that this year's harvest “will introduce a new tension to the sectors’ supply demand balance".

“As a result,” he concluded, “it is very clear focus in the next year will be on value rather than volume growth.”