Wairarapa vineyards have helped achieve record New Zealand wine exports ahead of a bumper crop expected in the region for the third year running, says New Zealand Winegrowers boss Philip Gregan.
Mr Gregan said the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand showed New Zealand wine exports were up 9.2 per cent for the year to March and had for the first time exceeded $1.3 billion.
"The very robust export performance over the past 12 months reflects the continued demand in key markets and increased availability of the wine from the 2013 vintage."
Mr Gregan said Wairarapa had bucked a national trend of smaller crops in 2012, producing about 4300 tonnes of grapes ahead of a harvest of just under 5000 tonnes last year.
"And I think they've had another pretty good crop again this year according to everything I've heard from local growers and wineries."
The past few years had yielded consistently sized harvests in Wairarapa , he said, which had contrasted "some big ups and downs in the mid-2000s".
"As an industry the 2012 crop was considerably smaller than 2011, but that wasn't the case in Wairarapa. Last year was good as well and all the signs are showing you're heading toward another pretty good crop for the third year running."
Mr Gregan said Kiwi wine exports had increased by $1 billion over the past decade and wine today was New Zealand's eighth largest export.
"We expect further strong growth in the year ahead when the 2014 vintage wines are released," he said.
He said Wairarapa vineyards and growers could take credit for pulling their weight in the export stakes, with several operators performing consistently with international sales.
"There's obviously some companies in Wairarapa that are very active exporters such as Palliser, Ata Rangi, the Foley family wineries, Gladstone - there's a whole number of companies in the region that truly are contributing their part," he said.
"We expect further strong growth (nationally) in the year ahead when the 2014 vintage wines are released."