According to the vintage report from New Zealand Winegrowers, the wine grape harvest in New Zealand fell by 35% in 2003 to 76,400 tonnes, down 42,300 tonnes on 2002.

However, the figure was slightly above the mid-harvest estimate released by New Zealand Winegrowers.

"Overall, the dominant feature of the vintage is the extremely low yield our vineyards have experienced this year," said Philip Gregan, chief executive of New Zealand Winegrowers. "The average national yield of just 4.9 tonnes per hectare is well below long term averages, and reflects the cool Spring in 2002. The key issue with Vintage 2003 is that the reduced yield will not impact negatively on vintage quality. Quality and vintage size are two distinctly different issues."

While two regions - Otago and Nelson - produced larger crops in 2003, production was down in the all other areas. Production fell by 26% in Marlborough, the country's largest wine region, from 54,496 tonnes to 40,537 tonnes. In Hawkes Bay, the crop was down by 58% from 25,661 tonnes to 10,832 tonnes.