New Zealand wine drinkers are now enjoying the results of two good vintage years and the outlook for the sector is positive, NZ Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan says.
Both 2013 and 2014 vintages rated highly for the quality of wine produced, thanks to generally warm and dry conditions.
Gregan said production was up with new plantings on the rise.
Grapes liked the same kind of weather as holidaymakers - warm and dry - so both years were good for the national crop.
It's too early to tell what the 2015 season will hold, but the current fine weather won't be doing the crop any harm.
The industry produced a record 445,000 tonnes of grapes last year. On the export side, wine sales last year hit a record $1.34 billion, up about 8 per cent on the previous year and putting the sector in the major league in terms of New Zealand's total exports.
The impetus of the 2014 vintage is expected to drive $1.5 billion in exports in the current year, and the figure is expected to climb to $2 billion by the end of the decade.
Cool, clear nights help flavour and colour development in grapes. Warmth during the day helps ripeness and sugar content and dryness helps to ward off fungal diseases vines are sometimes prone to.
"We are just seeing some of the 2014 wines get into the export markets," Gregan says. "Overall, demand remains strong in our key markets and the industry is growing accordingly.
"What people will be seeing on the supermarket shelves will be a lot of 2013 red wines - it was a really good vintage," he says.
"We are now starting to see 2014 white wines - that was a pretty good vintage as well - so we have had two good years in a row and the customers are certainly getting the benefit of that."
Australia is New Zealand's biggest export market - taking 28 per cent of total export volume - followed by the United States and Britain.
Across the Tasman, sales are flat because of a subdued economy, and the high NZ/Australian dollar cross rate is not helping. However, there is strong growth in the United States and Canada, and there is growing recognition of New Zealand wines in those markets, Gregan says.
Among the "hot" varieties, there remains a lot of interest in pinot gris while chardonnay is making a comeback. Sauvignon blanc is the biggest seller. Of the red varieties, Gregan says 2013 produced some outstanding pinot noirs and merlots.