The New Zealand Grape Growers Council and the Wine Institute of New Zealand are merging their operations to form a new organisation to promote, represent and research the interests of New Zealand grape growers and winemakers.

The new organisation, named New Zealand Winegrowers, is commencing operations immediately.
Commenting on the initiative New Zealand Grape Growers Council President, Willie Crosse said: "The Council and the Institute have co-operated increasingly closely over the past decade. The formation of New Zealand Winegrowers is the natural culmination of our partnership with the Institute, and reflects our shared commitment and dedication to advancing the interests of the whole wine industry."

From the winemakers' perspective, Wine Institute Chair Peter Hubscher commented: "The formation of New Zealand Winegrowers is an historic moment for our industry. We have been working towards this goal for a number of years and are certain the new organisation will build on the legacy and achievements of the Institute and the Council.

"We are confident New Zealand Winegrowers, as a united industry organisation, will serve the industry well in the challenging years ahead. New Zealand Winegrowers will undoubtedly assist the industry to increase our exports at a time of rapidly expanding grape supply and strong demand for our wines in international markets."

The Institute and the Council will transfer most of their activities to New Zealand Winegrowers, but will continue to perform their statutory functions pursuant to the Wine Makers Act, Wine Makers Levy Act and Commodities Levy Act. The Institute and the Council will provide funding to New Zealand Winegrowers and will also act as electoral colleges for New Zealand Winegrowers.

New Zealand Winegrowers will have a membership of approximately 1000, comprising just over 600 grape growers and nearly 400 wineries. Sales by the grape growers are valued at up to $100 million per annum, while total sales by wineries are in excess of $600 million per year, and are projected to rise to over $1 billion by 2006.

A Board of 12, comprising 7 winery representatives elected through the Wine Institute and 5 grower members elected via the Council, will control New Zealand Winegrowers' activities. The new organisation will operate from the existing premises of the Wine Institute in Auckland.