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Marlborough could be produce 70% of NZ wine

Media release – December 14, 2006

Marlborough could be producing 70 percent of NZ wine within 5-10 years

Marlborough could be producing 70 percent of all New Zealand’s wine within five to 10 years, according to the country’s first contract winemaker Rapaura Vintners.

Marlborough made up a third of the New Zealand wine harvest in 2000, 57 percent in 2004 and 62 percent of the total production last season.

Rapaura chief executive Nigel Taylor says such is the rate of expansion in the region Marlborough will cement its place as the country’s major winegrowing region.

``We might not produce 75 percent as other younger wine regions are growing rapidly as well but one can see 70 percent being very likely in five to 10 years.’’

Rapaura continues to expand rapidly to meet the increasing demand of its shareholders Matua, Babich and NZ Wine Fund / Goldwater plus other contract labels like Nautilus, Clifford Bay and Sacred Hill.

The winemaker processed 2.9 million litres in 2001, 4.9 million litres in 2005 and 5.3 million litres this year. Taylor estimate they will put through 6.8 million to 7.1 million litres in the 2007 harvest.

``It’s to early to give good estimate on yield as flowering of dominant variety, sauvignon blanc, is still in progress. Early indications are for a good crop but there is still some considerable time to go.’’

Taylor said the dominate wine in the region Marlborough sauvignon blanc continues to be of a high quality.

Despite seasonal variations, NZ winemakers are continuing to hone their winemaking skills and techniques to ensure the highest quality is produced year on year.

Larger vineyards, a greater range of variation in vineyard location within Marlborough and a range of vine age all give winemakers blending options that also ensure the unique characteristic of Marlborough sauvignon blanc is maintained each year.

The highlight in 2006 for Rapaura was the merger of Goldwater Wines with NZ Wine Fund which brought a new shareholder to the board table and was part of the need for future expansion of our winemaking and bottling operations.

``We have a commitment to expand the winemaking capacity for the 2007 vintage and then a further expansion phase prior to 2008.

``We plan to grow the company's wine production capacity to 15,000 tonnes (11.25m litres) in the next two or three years to accommodate current shareholders' and other contract clients' growth in production.

Another milestone during the year was Ross Spence’s retirement from the board.

Spence was the man responsible for bringing sauvignon blanc to New Zealand in the early 1970s.

He was chairman of the New Zealand Wine Institute Board 1997 - 1999, deputy chairman 1990 - 1996, and a board member for many years before that.

His place on the Rapaura board has been taken by his brother Bill Spence, chairman of Fosters NZ.

ENDS

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