"New Zealand wine can hold price despite large harvest"

The demand for Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is strong enough to ensure a bumper harvest will not push the price down, according to one of New Zealand’s leading producers.

The country is anticipating the 2014 vintage to be at least 10% up on last year and some distributors expect the price to drop accordingly.

But Peter Yealands, owner of Yealands Estate, told OLN:  “While there’s an expectation from some that price may be a bit softer initially, if this happens I don’t expect it to last as the stocks of 2013 Sauvignon Blanc are relatively low.

“I am expecting the tonnage of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to be up 20,000 to 30,000 tonnes, which is 10%-15% up, and the market is easily strong enough that this will be absorbed without any issues like the price coming down.”

Yealands, who comes in at number 114 on the New Zealand Rich List with an estimated $80 million fortune, believes Marlborough’s long-term health could be secured by the end of the decade as winemakers target the last few available parcels of land.

He said: “There is currently around 35,000ha planted in Marlborough, the vast majority of it Sauvignon Blanc, and there’s not a lot of land left to plant.

“Over the next five to 10 years we may see another 10,000ha-15,000ha planted and if that happens I believe Marlborough will be fully planted. That will create an appellation in itself. It will bring long-term stability.

“It might not be helpful to the consumers because I expect that the product will be more expensive.

“But I don’t believe there will ever be an oversupply issue or that we will see a drop in prices like in 2008 and 2009.”

Yealands estimates that around 85% of Marlborough is planted with Sauvignon Blanc, but warned of the dangers involved in the industry putting all its grapes in one basket.

“We can’t just sit back and rest on our laurels with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – it’s very strong and will be for a long time to come, but nothing is forever,” he said.

“Pinot Gris is running in second place – it’s distinctive from Italian Pinot Grigio and is as unique in the Grigios as Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is in the Blancs.

“Pinot Noir is a good cool climate red that Marlborough does very well – as good if not better than Central Otago.

“New Zealand produces some very fine aromatics. There’s Riesling, there’s just been a burst of Gruner Veltliner. Ours won an IWC gold medal and we are pretty much allocating it.

“We have a new wine called PGR – a Pinot Gris, Gewutztraminer, Riesling blend – which has had terrific reviews and I personally love it.”

On this year’s harvest he added: “Wineries have started harvesting. The crop is looking exceedingly good, albeit a little heavy.

“We hope the weather stays as good for the next four weeks as it has been. The forecast is looking encouraging.

“The industry is generally in very good health but it is just getting over the disastrous earthquake back in August last year. Kiwis are a resilient lot and they have managed to get their wineries up and running to handle this year’s vintage. Some wineries have had to resort to some makeshift methods but I hope that the vintage will all find a home without too many issues.”

The UK market accounts for around a quarter of Yealands Estate sales and the wine is distributed by Enotria. 

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