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New Zealand 2024 vintage could be ‘significantly down’ on last two years

With the start of New Zealand’s wine harvest just a few weeks away, reports are emerging of “close to ideal” quality, but substantially smaller volumes nationwide.

A reduced yield for the 2024 harvest had to be expected, given the widespread damage caused to New Zealand vineyards when Cyclone Gabrielle struck the country’s North Island in February 2023.

An estimated NZ$13.5 billion (US$8.42 billion) worth of damage was reported and around 20,000 tonnes of grapes lost.

Although there has already been one harvest (2023) since Gabrielle hit, the destruction caused to vines and vineyard infrastructure is not something that could be quickly, easily or completely rectified.

Despite this, wine producers have “a real sense of anticipation this year,” according to Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

And it would seem that another weather phenomenon is helping to even out the scales.

“El Niño traditionally delivers lots of warmth and sunshine in our winegrowing regions, and it has certainly been the case this season,” says Gregan, leading to conditions that have been “close to ideal” for grapes.

“All the reports we are receiving suggest that ripening is progressing well, and disease pressure is low. With the grapes in excellent condition, it seems we are heading towards another quality New Zealand wine vintage,” he adds.

Lighter yield

While quality is expected to be high, wine volumes will not reach anywhere close to last year.

“Nationally we expect the 2024 harvest to be down on the last two years, perhaps significantly so,” says Gregan. “We are about to conduct our pre-vintage survey of wineries and expect this will confirm all the anecdotal reports of a smaller crop in 2024.”

In 2023 New Zealand harvested 501,000 tonnes of grapes and exported more than $2 billion of wine. This represented a 6% drop in volume on 2022 (532,000 tonnes). Despite this, as db reported at the time, the value of New Zealand wine in 2023 soared by 23%, thanks largely to producers charging more for their wines.

Prior to this, production in 2021 fell by a shocking 19% to reach 370,000 tonnes compared with 2020 (457,000 tonnes), caused by the twin challenges of Covid-19 and labour shortages, due to the closure of the New Zealand border.

And in 2019, a total of 413,000 tonnes were harvested.

Around 90% of New Zealand wine is exported, with its three biggest markets being the US, UK, and Australia.

In May last year, the ink dried on a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the UK, which saw tariffs erased on more than 97% of exports from New Zealand.

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