Wine shortage opens opportunity

By Roger Moroney

GROWING: The wine shelves of China are growing rapidly and Hawke's Bay wineries are moving fast to help fill them.
GROWING: The wine shelves of China are growing rapidly and Hawke's Bay wineries are moving fast to help fill them.

While global wine production is down in the wake of two poor European vintages and vine reduction, New Zealand producers and particularly those in Hawke's Bay are well poised for a glowing export future - a future built strongly around China.

In a report by American financial services company Morgan Stanley, it was stated that demand was outstripping supply as production in long-established markets such as France and Spain had fallen dramatically, while production in "New World" countries like New Zealand had increased.

The most immediate impact would likely be a modest rise in prices as, for the first time in about 15 years, stable domestic consumption along with growing export demand and a reduction in crops had caused an undersupply situation in New Zealand.

The report, however, focused mainly on "bottom end" wines and New Zealand had not gone down that path, the country's winegowers chief executive, Philip Gregan, said.

Hawke's Bay Winegrowers chairman Nicholas Buck echoed that, reinforcing that Hawke's Bay went for quality as it continued to build its growing reputation as an important fixture among the world's finest wine regions.

The global demand for wine had been driven by new markets entering the fray - like Russia, India, Africa and, most significantly, China. It was China that had come sharply into the focus of the Bay wine industry, Mr Buck said.

"For us at this time, it is about the 2013 vintage and it is about China."

He pointed to recent marketing initiatives devised by Hawke's Bay Winegrowers executive officer James Medina who had created a long-term strategy on international marketing of the region's wine.

Part of that has been the creation of a Hawke's Bay Winegrowers China marketing programme which Mr Buck said was exciting and beneficial to the industry.

The increased focus on the Chinese market, which sought top quality wines and particularly reds, had seen 15 wineries commit to a two-year, multi-event, tasting, education and marketing programme in China - an approach the Hastings District Council had given its support to.

Mr Buck said the final leg to enacting the plan would be the confirmation of a key funding partner, Agmardt, and they would be considering the proposal next Friday.

He said he was confident it would be well received.

"The winery and council commitments are already on board and we have great confidence that the proposal to Agmardt is compelling and that a positive outcome can be achieved," Mr Buck said.

"If this is the case, the China marketing programme will be of a substantially greater scale than anything this region's wine industry has previously attempted.

"It is enormously exciting to see this collective effort from the Hawke's Bay wine industry."

While the 2013 vintage was possibly the greatest ever, the solid shape of the region's wine industry had been further underlined by reports of good bud bursts, and large cluster counts, across the region as the 2014 vintage begins.

"The potential is there to match the marvellous 2013 vintage."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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