NZ winemakers must balance demand and sustainability

New Zealand winemakers must perform a "balancing act" between sustainable production and meeting consumer demand over the next five years, says the head of the country's winegrowers' group.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan says winemakers will be performing a “balancing act” over the next five years as they try to maintain sustainability while meeting consumer demand for their wines.

Interest in New Zealand wine shows no sign of abating in the UK with volume sales increasing 19 per cent in the past year, and according to NZW’s annual report, exports are predicted to increase by 60 per cent over the next five years.

Speaking at the New Zealand annual trade tasting in London yesterday, Gregan said winemakers want to meet demand, but won’t compromise the high environmental standards they have set in their winemaking.

“It’s a balancing act and we need to take a very long-term strategic view, “ he said.

“We are in a cool climate viticulture which has its ups and downs. We can’t say we are consistently going to produce the same amount each year, but we have consistently seen demand increase, so managing that is very difficult.

“We don’t want the trade and consumers to get frustrated, but we don’t see the forthcoming vintage, the 2008, being much different than 2007. It looks like it might be a bit bigger than last year, but not much.

“What’s important going forward in the mind of the consumer and the trade is quality first, but we have also got to get this issue of sustainability right. People who buy them also expect them to be produced in an environmentally friendly way.”

NZW’s Sustainable Winegrowing plan, introduced in 2002, sets out a framework that winemakers agree to work to which protects the environment.

Gregan said the industry supported the plan: “Wineries say it’s the right thing to do,” he said.