Exporting wine to the United States is more complicated than other countries says Hayden Higgins.

"There's a three tier system in the US which was set up after prohibition," Rabobank's Senior Horticulture and Wine Analyst told The Country's Jamie Mackay.

The three tiers are importer/producers, distributors, and retailers, and people can only do business in one part of the system.

"It's very difficult. There are not many states at all that would allow people to operate in more than one of those categories," says Higgins.


"A New Zealand exporter, they have to find someone to import their wine into the US and then they have to find a distributor to be able to distribute that wine. The distributor then starts a sales programme with the retailers in that market."

Listen below:

The process is worth it however, as the United States has grown to become New Zealand's most important market in terms of value and volume.

Sauvignon Blanc is popular in the US, due to New Zealand's specific flavour profile in comparison to other parts of the world.

This has resulted growth in the US market and now, "New Zealand rates as the second highest value wine per litre behind France," says Higgins.

Other wines have also been successful says Higgins, with Chardonnay, Rose and Pinot Noir all seeing growth, yet in "smaller volumes".

Also in today's interview: Hayden Higgins takes a look at how the horticulture season is shaping in his home province of Hawke's Bay.