[18 December/Radio New Zealand]

The wine industry has experienced a bumper year and is optimistic about further export growth. A new report shows that a record $1.66 billion was made in wine export revenue this year with volumes rising to key markets like the US, UK and Australia. The larger operators continue to report higher margins and profitability compared to small operators. ANZ Bank Food and Beverage specialist, Rob Simcic, said export revenue was driven by Sauvignon Blanc with the most growth into the US market. He added that the upcoming season was looking even better as the hot dry weather bodes well for a vintage season, although he noted that the impact of wet weather on last season’s harvest means nothing can be taken for granted at this point. The report highlighted that the average age of New Zealand grape growers is now 48 with 15% aged over 65 which could start to impact the wine industry as business owners without succession plans may find it harder to achieve the vineyard process that they had been expecting.