New Zealand – Little wonder

So confident is NZ of maintaining its wine export growth that new vineyard plantings are continuing apace. And who wouldn’t feel confident with Australia as your fastest growing market, asks Penny Boothman

Punching above your weight. Underdogs fighting back. Meek inheriting the earth. There are all kinds of metaphors for small things, people or places coming out on top. And New Zealand is a small country, full of small things. Kiwi fruit are small, hobbits are small, the aeroplanes you have to fly around the place in are positively tiny. Most of the country’s wineries are petite, and their total wine production is a mere drop in the ocean. But when it comes to wine exports, New Zealand is playing David to the global wine industry’s Goliath.

Perhaps a little bit of context would be useful here. New Zealand has a smaller vineyard area than Japan, and produces less wine each year than Uruguay. In fact, Hardys has a single winery in South Australia that processes more wine than the entire New Zealand industry does each year. You see, they’re really not playing in the big leagues. Or rather they are, but that’s what’s so laudable.

The latest figures from New Zealand Winegrowers show that total exports in June 2006 were up 44% on June 2005, to 5.6 million litres. This strong export month made for a very positive finish for the 2005/06 financial year: exports for the year end were up 16% on last year, totalling 59.4m litres. A figure New Zealand Winegrowers hopes to see doubled by 2011. Indeed their 2005 export projection survey forecasts exports of as much as 78m litres for the June year-end next year.

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