NZ wine vintage 2021: smaller harvest of good quality

Wednesday, 16 June, 2021

NZ wine vintage 2021: smaller harvest of good quality

The 2021 vintage from New Zealand’s wine regions is said to be of good quality despite smaller yields, according to the country’s peak industry body.

The high-calibre vintage should relieve the country’s wine producers after they experienced smaller-than-expected crops due to cooler spring weather and late frosts in some regions. It also comes at a time when the industry is facing increasing production costs, with ongoing labour shortages also adding pressure.

Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers, said that while the quality of the wine is superb, the overall smaller harvest means many 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 nine-litre cases of New Zealand wine,” he said.

There were 370,000 tonnes of grapes harvested during the 2021 vintage, down 19% on last year’s crop. Regions throughout the middle of the country — including Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson and North Canterbury — were impacted the most, down over 20% on 2020. However, there was some variability across different parts of the country, with Central Otago the one region to increase its crop, up 21% on last year’s harvest.

Gregan said ongoing strong export performance reflects the appreciation that the world has for New Zealand wine, and reinforces the industry’s reputation for distinct, premium and sustainable wines.

“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.”

Given the impact and associated difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year, the New Zealand wine industry is opposed to a looming increase in wine excise which would see the tax rise on 1 July. A major concern with this increase is the impact it will have on the approximately 300 small wineries who only sell in the domestic market.

“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 said.

 Image credit: ©

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