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The 2011 New Zealand grape harvest has seen 23% more grapes being picked in response to rising sales.
New Zealand Winegrowers figures show wine sales are up +11% in the past year and expectations are for a high quality vintage and recovery in the sector.
Philip Gregan New Zealand Winegrowers’ chief executive officer, said: “With the vintage now over, we believe the wineries and growers can look to the year ahead with cautious optimism.
“The vintage should support sales growth of up to 7% for June year end 2012, which will be another step forward in the recovery of the sector.”
However, Gregan accepts challenges still remain for the industry. “Profitability levels remain an on-going concern and recovery of winery and grower incomes should be a focus for all industry participants in the year ahead.”
The 2011 vintage featured markedly different experiences for the North and South Islands with vintage growth driven by larger harvests in most South Island regions, including Marlborough, Nelson, Waipara and Central Otago.
Growth was fuelled by good weather which produced larger crops of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris and expectations for the Sauvignon Blanc vintage are positive given the “ideal weather” that prevailed during autumn.
“By comparison the vintage was smaller in most North Island regions, including Gisborne and Hawkes Bay, as production of leading varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah fell compared to 2010. Nevertheless we expect some excellent wines to be produced, albeit in slightly smaller volumes than last year,” added Gregan.
David Cox, New Zealand Winegrowers’ European director , said: “Whilst the size of this vintage is slightly larger that we predicted in January, nonetheless we are confident that the continuing and very vibrant sales in the UK & European markets will easily absorb this quantity whilst retaining our premium image and pricing.”