“We know it’s been a tough year for many parts of the trade in the UK – cost of living through the roof, tax increases, all those issues. But we’re really pleased with the performance of our wines over the past 12 months,” said Philip Gregan, CEO of the New Zealand Winegrowers trade body. 

Speaking at the annual New Zealand Trade Tasting in London, Gregan said that despite the challenges of 2023, NZ wine has maintained an above average price point compared to the overall still wine category in the UK: “We’ve maintained our price premium which is so important to us and our producers. And most of all, we’ve retained our reputation that we know has resonated so well with the trade and with our consumers.” 

While harvest volumes for 2024 are expected to be down due to fluctuating weather conditions, the trade body remains optimistic about the future of the industry following a successful 2023 in terms of sales value. 

With the UK representing 25% of all export volumes for NZ wine, Chris Stroud, NZ Winegrowers’ market manager for Europe, highlighted the importance of the UK market to the NZ wine trade. 

“Over the last 12 months, New Zealand was one of the only countries in the UK market, alongside Italy, to grow its rate of sale [+0.9%],” he said, citing NIQ data. “When it comes to value, we’re adding £13.40 more per week for each store than we sold in 2022, so we represent increased value to retailers.”

In 2023, sales value was up 7.7% for NZ still wine, compared to +2.2% for the total still wine category in the UK. Turning to varietals, Stroud said that nearly all wines, besides Chardonnay, are up in terms of sales. 

White wines in particular saw a successful 2023, with Sauvignon Blanc remaining one of the top varieties for New Zealand. Stroud also noted a growing consumer interest in Pinot Gris: “Pinot Gris is growing at 21%, so that’s a really good opportunity for us in terms of those aromatic, fresh wine styles that consumers love from New Zealand.” 

“We don’t have as much shelf space for reds, however Pinot Noir still saw a 9.4% increase in value over the last 12 months. There’s plenty of opportunity for Pinot Noir as well as Pinot Gris and the continuously strong performance of Sauvignon Blanc.”

Speaking of consumer attitudes towards New Zealand wine, Stroud mentioned a recent IWSR survey which found taste and grape varieties were the main driver for shoppers purchasing NZ wine in 2023. 

Consumer trust in NZ wine was also a strong factor in driving sales, with 45% of respondents citing this as a reason they purchased NZ wine in 2023. Stroud believes that this level of consumer trust will be vital in propelling the category forward, particularly in light of the difficulties the UK wine trade has faced in the past year. 

“Like Philip mentioned, it’s great to hear that there’s a continued positive sentiment around New Zealand wine in the trade and amongst consumers which bodes well for the future.”