New Zealand reaped fewer grapes for its vintage this year, though the quality was said to be “exceptional” across the wine-producing regions.
In a statement on Friday, industry group New Zealand Winegrowers said there were 370,000 tonnes of grapes harvested for the 2021 vintage, down 19% over the last year’s crop.
Among regions, Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson, and North Canterbury posted wide harvest declines of over 20% from last year. Central Otago, meanwhile, was the only region to record a harvest gain, increasing 21% over its last year’s crop.
Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers, said there will be a deficit in the 2021 vintage equal to around seven million 9-liter cases of wines.
“While the quality is exceptional, the overall smaller harvest means many of our wineries will face tough decisions over who they can supply in their key markets. There is going to be some supply and demand tension because of this, with the shortfall in the crop equivalent to roughly 7 million 9 litre cases of New Zealand wine,” Gregan said.
Despite the low harvest, there is still growing global demand for New Zealand wines as reflected by the industry’s “strong” export performance.
In the year ended March 2021, the country exported NZ$1.95 billion (US$1.4 billion) worth of wine, rising by 2% from the previous period. Most of the wine exports were brought to the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and Germany.
“It is encouraging to see that during these uncertain times, consumers continue to choose a premium product they know that they can trust. Wines from vintage 2021 promise to be something special, but in some instances, the question may just be whether there is enough to go around,” Gregan exclaimed.
Cooler spring weather and late frosts in some regions affected this year’s harvest, while the industry was also facing rising production costs and labor shortages due to mobility restrictions mounted against the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Moreover, 300 small wineries were also burdened with the looming increase in wine excise tax starting July 1, which the industry group is opposing.
“They have already been hit hard by the lack of international tourists post-Covid, surging production costs, and the difficulties being experienced in the hospitality sector. Adding to those stresses with yet another tax rise does not make sense right now,” Gregan stated.