The days of a cheap and cheerful $10 bottle of Kiwi wine are all but over.
New Zealand Winegrowers warns in its annual report that an 18 per cent slump in the country's wine production will cause big price hikes. Already, Lion has boosted its prices by 5 per cent.
Wine lovers are being urged to stockpile their favourite $10 tipples before bargain prices disappear in spring and summer.
Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said last year's cold December was to blame for the 18 per cent drop in production. It marked the end of a four-year "grape glut" that had driven an unusual ambundance of good-quality, cheap wine.
He said prices would creep up when this year's vintage began hitting shop shelves next month. "Deals at the moment where a bottle of Marlborough sauvignon blanc is $8.99 won't be profitable for anything under $12," he said.
"Consumers have had a great deal since 2008. They've been very lucky. I think a lot of people didn't realise just how lucky they were."
Cabernet sauvignon and gewurztraminer were the worst hit (down a third from last year) followed by pinot noir (down 25 per cent).
Riesling and sauvignon blanc were down around 20 per cent. Chardonnay and merlot varieties were the least-affected (down by 10 per cent).
"The price has to go up, it's inevitable. The bigger the shortage, the bigger the impact," Gregan said.
He added the wine industry had struggled to make a profit during the grape glut - and the correction between supply and demand would be welcome news to wine makers.
Industry experts predicted supermarket chains may look to source cheaper Australian and South American wine.
Rebecca Farmiloe, 32, and her friend Stacey Milne, 31, who were enjoying a glass of wine in the sun at Auckland's Viaduct Harbour yesterday, were disappointed to hear prices would shoot up just as summer swung into gear.
But wine master Bob Campbell said there was an easy solution: stock up on your favourite 2011 vintage and learn to love mature wine. "Some people like young wines, but the majority of people prefer older wine once they try it," he said.
The country's favourite wine, sauvignon blanc, became less acidic and lost its "punchy, fruity" flavour as it aged.
He recommended storing bottles at a cool, consistent temperature, away from the kitchen, which heated up every time the oven was on.
"You can buy storage units for around $50, but under the house works as well."By Celeste Gorrell Anstiss @Cagorrell Email Celeste