Despite improved harvests, New Zealand wineries are facing the forces of inflation, according to the New Zealand Winegrowers annual report. 

The trade organisation’s report signalled “renewed certainty and confidence” among grape growers and wineries as harvests proved more fruitful than the “dramatically smaller harvest in 2021”, which led to a 13% fall in sales volumes over the past 18 months. 

Amid the decrease in export and sales volume, value increased as wineries raised prices. Total export value reached NZ$1.95 billion, with the average value of packaged exports increasing 6%. The 2022 harvest also proved more successful, with 532,000 tonnes of produce enabling “severely depleted cellars and supply chains to be restocked”.

However, the pressure of inflation is presenting challenges to the industry, with the report noting that cost increases may “threaten industry profitability”. It also flagged concern over long-term growth following a 6.9% increase in excise rates earlier this year – the largest increase in around 30 years.

Looking to the future, the proposed Container Return Scheme (established as part of the NZ government’s Transforming Recycling proposal) is predicted to impose additional costs of around 30 cents per container, with the trade group voicing concerns over whether the system will deliver on the goal of waste minimisation. 

Elsewhere in sustainability, the report highlighted that around 96% of vineyards in New Zealand are certified as sustainable through the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) certification programme. A further 10% of New Zealand wineries hold organic certification. 

As the industry looks to address concerns around climate change, it strives to be carbon-neutral by 2050. 

In terms of variety, Sauvignon Blanc continued to be the most exported wine, followed by Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The number of wineries as a whole also increased to 744 compared to 731 in 2021.

Clive Jones, chair of New Zealand Winegrowers, said that the trade body aims to continue protecting “the reputation of New Zealand wine and supporting the sustainable growth of the industry over the next decade and beyond.” The board is now in the process of conducting a review of industry governance and levies to help retain “ongoing support” from its members.