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New Zealand 2021 vintage down by 19% on 2020

New Zealand crushed 370,000 tonnes of grapes during the 2021 harvest, equating to a 19% drop on the 2020 vintage.

While the 2021 harvest was smaller than hoped for, the quality of the vintage has been described as “exceptional” throughout the country’s various wine regions.

Regions in the middle of the country – including Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson, and North Canterbury – were impacted the most this year, and are down over 20% on 2020.

Last month Pernod Ricard, owner of Brancott Estate, said it will be unable to meet the global demand for Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc this year after one of its smallest harvests in 10 years.

However, it’s a different story in the Pinot Noir-centric Central Otago, which was the one NZ region to increase its crop, up 21% on last year’s harvest.

“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 seven million nine litre cases of New Zealand wine,” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“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 special, but in some instances, the question may just be whether there is enough to go around,” he added.

The smaller 2021 crop is due to cooler spring weather and late frosts in some regions, and comes at a time when the industry is facing increasing production costs, with ongoing labour shortages also adding pressure.

Given the impact and associated difficulties of Covid-19 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 that it will have on the hundreds of small wineries in the country that 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.

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