The export value of New Zealand wine has hit a record high of $1.66 billion, making it our fifth largest goods export.

The 2017 Annual Report of New Zealand Winegrowers showed that the value of wine exports had increased by 6 per cent in the 12 months to June 30, 2017. Exports to the US led the growth, passing $500m in value for the first time and making NZ wine the third most valuable wine import into the country behind France and Italy.

"With diversified markets and a strong upward trajectory, the industry is in good shape to achieve $2 billion of exports by 2020," said Steve Green, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers.

"Our premium reputation remains the greatest collective asset for New Zealand wine, and underlies the high average price our wine commands in global trade," Green said.


New Zealand's wine exports achieved an additional layer of protection this year with the introduction of official geographical indications legislation.

The Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act, first passed in 2006, allows wine regions to register with the Intellectual Property Office New Zealand and ensure the region's name is reserved only for wine of that area.

The model is similar to one which has been used in Europe.

France has used the Appellation d'origine Controlee (AOC) for decades and certain regions also use geographical indicators (GI). It means for instance, that only wine from Champagne and Burgundy can be referred to as such.

Italy and Spain have similar protection with the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and the Denominacion de Origen respectively which affords protection to wines such as Sherry, Rioja and Cava.

Central Otago winemaker and NZ Winegrowers director James Dicey told the Herald at the time that unlike AOC and DOC, the New Zealand geographical indicators would not restrict the types of grapes grown or attempt to guarantee quality.

Dicey said the new measure would give consumers confidence in the wine they were consuming, especially in the overseas market.

New Zealand Winegrowers acting chief executive Jeffrey Clarke said the introduction of GI was a significant advance for the local wine industry.


"Our geographical indications, the names and places where our wines come from, are at the very heart of the New Zealand wine story and this new law provides an additional level of protection for them," Clarke told the Herald at the time.

The wine industry is working towards $2b in export value by 2020.