Pinot noir grapes midway through veraison, the colouring
and ripening process. Photo from ODT files.
A marked increase in New Zealand's grape harvest this
year has been driven by strong yields and a young vineyard
estate which continues to mature.
The New Zealand Winegrowers Association estimated the harvest
was up 23% to 328,000 tonnes, Rabobank said in its quarterly
wine report released this week.
The wine regions of Marlborough (up 34%), Waipara (68%),
Nelson (32%) and Central Otago (15%) lifted production in the
South Island, while less favourable conditions further north
impacted on Hawkes Bay and Gisborne, which were down 9% and
The annual value of exports fell 6% while volumes declined
10% in the first quarter of the year.
The moving annual total bottled wine export unit value
increased for the first time in more than two years to $8.70
per litre, in response to higher monthly bottled wine pricing
and a lower proportion of bulk wine trade.
The average value of bottled wine exports in March, up 7.6%
year on year to $9.51 per litre, represented the highest
value recorded since June 2009.
The global over-supply situation in the wine industry
continued to ease. Improving consumption and relatively light
recent harvests have led to declining stocks in many regions
and general improvements in bulk wine pricing across
varietals and across regions.
A major contributor to rebalancing the supply/demand
situation has been the rise in export sales volumes reported
by many countries.
Major exporters such as Spain, Chile and Argentina were
reporting substantial growth in export volumes in the first
quarter of 2011 compared to the same period last year.
Improving sales, coupled with weak to average grape harvests
for most regions over the past few years, have helped to
reduce excess wine inventories and bring supply and demand
closer to balance.
The 2011 harvest in Australia was estimated by the Winemakers
Federation of Australia as 1.62 million tonnes, up 1%.
The estimate was higher than many had anticipated given the
level of disease damage incurred in regions across southeast
The need to replenish tightening stocks might have led wine
companies to accept a proportion of damaged fruit which would
have been rejected in a normal year, the report said.
White grapes made up an even greater proportion of the
harvest than usual (up 12.7%) as cool, wet weather prevented
some red grapes (down 9.25%) from ripening.