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Improved 2022 harvest could restore depleted New Zealand wine stocks

Sales of New Zealand wine fell by 14% in 2021, as cool weather and frosts negatively impacted last year’s vintage. Winegrowers are now seeing positive results for the 2022 harvest for all principal varieties, as they look to replenish markets.

Improved 2022 harvest could help restore depleted New Zealand wine stocks

“Going into vintage, wineries urgently needed a larger harvest as strong demand and smaller than expected crops in recent years had led to a significant shortage of New Zealand wine,” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

That shortage has caused total New Zealand wine sales to fall 14% from the peak achieved in January 2021, even as wineries supported sales by drawing on stocks.

Gregan noted that stocks are now at “rock-bottom levels”, indicating an even stronger need for a positive vintage in 2022.

According to New Zealand Winegrowers, the region was short by a minimum of 63 million litres.

In the domestic market, the 2021 shortage has led to sales of New Zealand wine falling to their lowest level since 2004.

Chris Stroud, market manager Europe for New Zealand Winegrowers, told db in May: “Vintage 2022 was marked by the twin challenges of COVID-19 and labour shortages, due to the closure of the New Zealand border.”

Stroud added: “With the vintage now successfully concluded, we are confident that New Zealand wineries will be much better placed to meet market demand in the year ahead, meaning a return to our export growth trajectory.”

On Sunday 13 March, applications for working holiday schemes opened for the first time since the pandemic began, but this came too late for winery owners in need of workers for the harvest.

Despite these challenges, the 2022 harvest produced 532,000 tonnes of grapes, with virtually every region and all principal varieties contributing to the production turnaround from the small crop in 2021.

“The improved harvest is good news for the industry and customers. Producers will be able to rebuild seriously depleted stocks and sales, while customers should get to see retail shelves restocked once more,” Gregan added.

However, rising costs and supply chain disruption remain significant concerns to winemakers as they look to replenish markets.

Gregan said: “We know demand for New Zealand wine is strong as the distinctive flavours, quality, and sustainability of our wines resonate resoundingly with wine enthusiasts around the world. Vintage 2022 is another step towards meeting that demand.”

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