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New Zealand harvest up 39%

The 2008 New Zealand grape harvest will help the wine industry meet strong export demand and produce a vintage of high quality, New Zealand Winegrowers announced.

285,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested in 2008, up 39% on last year, according to Winegrowers’ 2008 Vintage Survey. The increase is due to a combination of an increased producing area and favourable growing conditions in most regions over the summer months, which bodes well for the new season’s wines.

New Zealand Winegrowers CEO, Philip Gregan, said that nature had delivered an unexpected bounty in 2008.

“The harvest is larger than forecast pre-vintage as a result of the favourable growing season. This reflects the upside of agricultural risk in our industry which in recent years has often worked against us with spring frosts or cool weather during the critical flowering period.”

The increase in the harvest in 2008 is principally linked to the rise in the production of Sauvignon Blanc. Significant production rises were also recorded for Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, both of which are enjoying strong export sales. The Chardonnay harvest was smaller than 2007.

“The increased harvest is a real opportunity to grow sales in new and existing export markets in the year ahead towards our target of $1 billion of exports by 2010. At the same time, the larger harvest will present a challenge to winery sales and marketing efforts to ensure that New Zealand’s premium image continues to go from strength to strength.”

Regionally, Marlborough produced 195,000 tonnes of grapes in 2008, up 61% from 121,000 tonnes in 2007. However, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay regions were down 8% and 18% respectively, due to a combination of frosts and cooler weather at flowering.

Other regional increases included Central Otago up 177%, Wairarapa up 111%, Waipara up 304%, Canterbury up 304% and Nelson up 35%. In most cases these changes reflect a rebound to target levels after weather reduced crops in 2007.

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