Winemakers would 'wait and see'

Dr Jim Jerram with the Ostler Vineyards' first vintage
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Dr Jim Jerram with the Ostler Vineyards' first vintage of wine, a pinot noir, from its vineyard in the lower Waitaki Valley. Photo by David Bruce.
The Waitaki Valley Wine Growers Association has given a cautious welcome to a Government initiative to expand New Zealand wine exports overseas.

Economic Development Minister Stephen Joyce last week announced New Zealand Trade and Enterprise would invest $2.1 million to promote the country's wine brand in China, the United States and Northern Europe.

Mr Joyce said the programme, which would include $600,000 support for the Complexity High-end Wine Initiative in the US, would boost sales for New Zealand growers.

However, Waitaki Valley Wine Growers chairman Dr Jim Jerram said local growers would adopt a "wait and see" approach to the funding boost.

The initiative was a "small first step," and it still remained to be seen if the funds would be enough to offset the challenge posed to exporters by the current high exchange rate, he said.

"We will wait to see what that really means in terms of boutique producers.

"As winemakers travel the world and get enthusiastic reception [for] our boutique and high-end products, we find that the biggest barrier for us is the exchange rate, and support with marketing.

"All exporters are finding trading difficult because of the exchange rate in particular, and $2.1 million for marketing is a terrific start for the industry.

Whether that translates into assistance for boutique producers and how that's to be targeted will be the key to whether it is of benefit to small producers in Central Otago and Waitaki Valley."

Mr Joyce said the programme would position New Zealand wine at the premium end of the market within the targeted regions.

The minister said the goal was to "build a solid brand platform upon which New Zealand wineries and winegrowers can thrive."

 

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