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Hard work pays off for NZ Pinot Noir producers

Hard work pays off for NZ Pinot Noir producers

A lot can change in two years and a lot has certainly changed in the New Zealand Pinot Noir industry, with exports leaping an incredible 151% and not showing any sign of slowing down soon.

In January 2004, delegates at Pinot Noir 2004 heard from several international experts that they had some hard work ahead of them to grow overseas markets.

Plantings of Pinot Noir had significantly increased, but the corresponding market growth had still to manifest. Wine producers were given some tough messages about the work ahead of them.

And New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive Philip Gregan says they have listened.

“At that time our Pinot Noir exports were 1.65 million litres a year. In January this year, they were 4.15 million litres so wine producers have certainly taken on the messages from Pinot Noir 2004.

“They have listened and worked hard and they are reaping the benefits of that.”

Philip Gregan says demand for New Zealand Pinot Noir continues to escalate, and has seen Pinot Noir overtake Chardonnay as our second biggest wine export behind Sauvignon Blanc.

“I think two years ago, many wine companies thought they might have enough Pinot Noir planted but they are now saying actually we haven’t got enough – not because they are producing any less, but because demand has been stronger than they thought.”

Philip Gregan says we are growing existing Pinot Noir markets as well as creating new ones, and there have been some phenomenal increases in the past year in terms of export volumes – including a 123% increase to Canada, 80% to Germany, 143% to Ireland and 68% to Japan.

“People are not only becoming more aware of our wines but our winemakers are becoming more confident in the quality of their product.

“That translates into confidence in going out to market and the way the wines are marketed, and because the wines really are good, when winemakers talk enthusiastically about them, consumers recognise it’s not just hype. They listen.”

Philip Gregan says the past two years have also seen a number of wineries acknowledge the demand for lower-priced Pinot Noir and introduce new brands. “And that’s going really well.”

With Pinot Noir 2007 being held in January next year, Philip says it’s an opportunity for the industry to stand back and reflect on the progress made, but also where it’s going in the future – and all the signs show that’s likely to include continued strong growth.

“Pinot Noir has become a core variety for many wineries and I think there’s an ongoing commitment in the industry to invest in Pinot Noir production.

“Maybe in 10 years time we will have as much of a reputation for Pinot Noir as we do for Sauvignon Blanc.”

For more information on Pinot Noir 2007, check out


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