"New Zealand wine sales have been very strong in the past year (equivalent to 310,000 tonnes of grapes)” he said recently, “and a larger harvest was needed in 2011 to rebuild inventory and to support current and future sales. With lower stocks in winery cellars, this has prompted a grape intake this year of 328,000 tonnes of grapes, slightly up on our pre-harvest expectation of around 310,000 tonnes.”
The New Zealand Wine Company for example reported that its own 2011 wine grape harvest was 26 per cent higher than in the previous year, at 586 tonnes.
To date, sales of New Zealand wines are up 11 per cent over the past year with wineries there harvesting 23 per cent more grapes following a reduced harvest in 2010.
The expectations for the Sauvignon Blanc vintage are very positive given the ideal weather that prevailed during the NZ Autumn and Philip Gregan expects some excellent wines to be produced albeit in slightly smaller volumes than last year.
"With the vintage now over we believe the wineries and growers can look to the year ahead with cautious optimism,” he stated, “The vintage should support sales growth of up to seven per cent for June year-end 2012 which will be another step forward in the recovery of the sector.”
However he added, "Profitability levels remain an ongoing concern and recovery of winery and grower incomes should be a focus for all industry participants in the year ahead".
David Cox, New Zealand Winegrowers’ European Director, added, “Whilst the size of this vintage is slightly larger than 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”.