For the early part of the 21st century, New Zealand Winegrowers produced an annual statistical report which provided detailed information on vineyards and varietals throughout the country. These studies helped estimate future wine production, determine infrastructure needs and better understand disease management requirements. They were an invaluable aid for studying the development of the New Zealand wine industry and their curtailment after 2009 left researchers dependent upon estimated projections.
So many workers will welcome New Zealand Winegrowers’ recently published Vineyard Register Report for 2012, together with news that in future this will be updated on an annual basis. The current report provides a timely snapshot of the New Zealand vineyard and a chance to see how past projections have played out.
The most noticeable feature is the continued – yet seemingly unpredicted – growth of vineyard area in Marlborough. New Zealand Winegrowers had predicted that between 2009 and 2012 the Marlborough vineyard area would increase by 6.4% from 18,401 ha to 19,570 ha. In fact the increase in the Marlborough vineyard area was a whopping 4,186 ha (22.7%), giving it a total vine-bearing area in 2012 of 22,587 ha.
There has been much recent interest in Pinots from Marlborough and it might have been thought that these varietals would account for a good part of the Marlborough vineyard area increase between 2009 and 2012. In percentage terms they both showed substantial gains with the Pint Noir vineyard area increasing by 18% (367 ha) and the Pinot Gris vineyard by 74% (405 ha). Yet Sauvignon Blanc with a 27% increase (3,705 ha) accounted for the vast majority of the expanded vineyard area in Marlborough between 2009 and 2012.
Outside of Marlborough, recorded changes to regional vineyard areas from 2009 to 2012 are small in absolute terms. The most noteable change is the increase in vineyard area in Otago (1,532 ha to 1,787ha). Coupled with a reported downsizing in Gisborne (2,149 ha to 1,617 ha), this means that Otago is now officially the third largest vineyard region in New Zealand after Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay. Don’t try to remember this unless you’re a serious pub quizzer or wine student!