Opportunities to open up for winemakers

By Sophie Ryan

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Monty Knight.
Monty Knight.

A decline in production of wine in Europe could see Northland wineries making a place for themselves in overseas markets.

A report from American financial services firm Morgan Stanley said global wine production peaked in 2004 and has been steadily falling since, with international demand outstripping supply by 300 million cases last year, resulting in "the deepest shortfall in over 40 years of records".

The Morgan Stanley report said new world wines, from New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Chile and South Africa, now accounted for 30 per cent of global exports, up from less than 3 per cent in the early 1980s.

Vineyard and winery owner at Okahu Estate Monty Knight said the gap from the decline of high-end wines from Europe could be filled by Northland hand-crafted exclusive wine varieties.

He said there is a demand in China for Northland red wines and already exports his pinotage, syrah and chambourcin to China.

He said Okahu Estate's style of specialised and handmade wines appeal to the Chinese market.

"There is a culture there of wanting to buy high quality reds, particularly French reds. If they are importing less and less French reds they might look to us," he said.

He said although Northland doesn't produce the super popular New Zealand sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and red wines such as syrah are crafted beautifully here.

"Probably the thing Northland is best known for is chardonnay, which comes from Burgundy in France. The climate there is more akin to Marlborough and yet our chardonnays are appealing to people all over the world," he said.

There are 18 wineries and vineyards in Northland and the Northland Wine Growers' Association has 50 members.

Rod MacIvor of Marsden Estate is optimistic about Northland's future prospects.

"We have what most other regions would kill for. We are right on the doorstep to New Zealand's largest population."

The Morgan Stanley report said in the past couple of years, production has declined in France, Spain and Italy, whilst production from countries such as New Zealand is rising.

New Zealand wine exports were now worth $1.23 billon annually - expected to rise to over $1.3 billion by June 2014.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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