The country’s Ministry for Primary Industries has teamed up with the wine industry to launch a major research programme into the category, which has been named “lifestyle wines”.
It is the biggest research and development project the country’s wine trade has ever undertaken.
The ministry’s Justine Gilliland said: “We’re excited by this programme providing the opportunity for further innovation in the wine industry, and the potential to strengthen New Zealand’s reputation as a supplier of some of the world’s finest wines.”
Wineries including Constellation NZ, Forrest, Giesen, Mud House, Pernod Ricard NZ and Villa Maria have invested in the NZ $16.9 (£8.5 million) programme alongside the government.
One of its aims is to develop viticulture and winery tools to service the rapidly growing market for lower-calorie and lower-alcohol wines with high quality, naturally-produced products.
New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said: “This programme will capitalise on the domestic and international market demand for high quality, lower-calorie and lower-alcohol ‘lifestyle’ wines by developing new, natural techniques for grapevine growth and wine production utilised across the New Zealand Wine Industry.
“Our point of difference will be producing premium wines that can be naturally produced using sustainable viticultural techniques and native yeasts — providing an important point of difference to existing processing methods.
“The programme will produce tangible outcomes for the grape and wine industry and the economy as a whole.”