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Don Kavanagh is the editor of Hospitality magazine.

Don Kavanagh: Price of wine nudging upwards

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Wine lovers have had it good for some years but predicts price pain.

An oversupply of summer rain portends a shortage of grapes for winemakers, so prices will very likely rise. Photo / Thinkstock
An oversupply of summer rain portends a shortage of grapes for winemakers, so prices will very likely rise. Photo / Thinkstock

This weather depresses me. Oh, not because it's supposed to be summer and there is more surface water lying around than you'd normally find in a duck pond.

Mostly, I'm concerned it's going to have a major effect on what I drink. I'm not a weather-dependent drinker, I must point out. I can quite happily sit inside and look out at the rain over the rim of my pint glass.

No, what's worrying me is that all this dampness will affect the 2012 grape harvest. It's a bad time for the vines to be drenched and, while they could cope with a few downpours, this regular rain could result in a smaller harvest. Some winemakers I've spoken to are concerned at the volume they are likely to get this year and that will have a knock-on effect on the shelf price.

In a way it's good for the industry, as it will soak up what remains of the large, deep wine lake that has been sloshing about for years now. But, for the customer, the rainy summer could herald the beginning of the end of the golden price weather.

It's been a great few years for wine buyers. Supermarkets have ruthlessly hacked back prices they were prepared to pay wineries, meaning customers could get great bargains. This also had something of an effect on other liquor outlets, with prices generally heading south (unless you were buying wine in a restaurant or bar, in which case the only way prices ever went were up).

You may notice prices nudging upwards again as the inevitable laws of supply and demand come into play. Rising exports will also take a chunk out of supply, so it might even be an idea to buy up large in the coming months to hedge against price rises.

It's been a good innings, really. For three or four years customers have been able to pick up bloody good wine at bargain prices and it will be hard to move back to paying full whack for a glass of something fun.

Thankfully, we can rely on the wineries to get back into oversupply as soon as the sun comes out again, because nothing is quite so predictable as the self-defeating greed of some of our less scrupulous producers.

- Herald on Sunday

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