At 185,000 tonnes, the New Zealand vintage has come in in-line with expectations, according to New Zealand Winegrowers. The haul is a record for the country.
 
New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said: "This is good news for the New Zealand wine industry as we have unfulfilled demand for our premium wine in most export markets."

The vintage is a new record for the industry, up 11% on the previous mark of 166,000 tonnes set in 2004, according to results from the New Zealand Winegrowers 2006 Vintage Survey. This growth is a result of the 18% increase in producing vineyard area developed over the same timeframe. The 2005 vintage was down, at 142,000 tonnes, due to cool weather during the critical flowering period.

"Grape growers and wine makers are pleased with the vintage. The size and quality of the harvest is due to good summer and autumn weather which meant grapes were picked when they were at their best," said Gregan.

"Despite the increased harvest, demand continues to outstrip supply for quality New Zealand wine in our key markets such as the US, UK and Australia.  Increased wine volumes are however also needed to grow sales in new countries such as Ireland where sales are up 55% this year."

Currently around 55% of New Zealand's production is exported and Gregan said the 2006 vintage will help lift exports from around 60m litres in 2006 to over 75m litres forecast for 2007.

Warm weather patterns meant most regions experienced an increase in production against the 2005 vintage. Marlborough continues to lead grape production at 113,000 tonnes, well over half (62%) of the vintage, followed by Hawke's Bay at 18%, and Gisborne at 10% of the harvest.

Together the three major regions make up 90% of the vintage.

Production in the smaller regions totalled 18,000 tonnes, more than double the production in these areas in 2005 (7,780 tonnes), and is a record for these regions, surpassing the previous record of 13,700 tonnes set in 2004.