New Zealand anticipates a vintage to remember

14 March, 2013

A scorching summer in New Zealand has created a "perfect" environment for grape production and led growers to predict a bumper 2013 crop.

The 2012 crop was 18% smaller than the previous year and rebalanced supply and demand, leaving the industry with the challenge of maintaining a premium price point. 

This year's crop is set to be "one to remember", according to New Zealand Winegrowers, but it moved to dispel fears of a glut.

Chief executive Philip Gregan added: "As we move into autumn, with warm days and now slightly cooler nights prevailing, the prospect is for an outstanding vintage in all our regions.

“We understand the pain the current drought is causing in the pastoral sector, but the warm dry summer of 2013 has been absolutely perfect for growing and ripening grapes. 

The 2013 grape harvest is underway in northern regions and will end in early May.

“If the grapes harvested to date are any indication then vintage 2013 will be one to remember,” said Gregan.

Brancott Estate said early indicators point to a vintage that will deliver "all of the characteristic flavours of the region".

Chief winemaker Patrick Materman said: "The weather has worked in our favour throughout the entire season.

"In contrast to vintage 2012, Marlborough had fine, settled weather during the critical flowering period, leading to balanced crop loads.”

He added that the ideal summer weather has ensured development of ripe flavours in the fruit while the onset of cool autumn nights will retain the natural acidity that makes Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc so distinctive.

But Deloitte analyst Paul Munro warned: "I think the industry's got to be careful that it doesn't flip-flop back into that sort of supply imbalance and produce too much for the market.

"It's a fine balance that the industry needs to manage carefully and I think New Zealand Winegrowers are doing a pretty good job in terms of keeping that message top of mind so producers don't attempt to harvest large volumes of product."

Stuart Smith, owner of Marlborough's Fairhall Downs Estate winery, said a larger harvest would be welcomed and that there would be no impact on prices unless the vintage was "massive".

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