In recent years, New Zealand has certainly been a growing concern on the international wine scene. The sauvignon blancs, of course, and, increasingly, the pinot noirs have been making great headway on world markets. The growth of the industry in general has been simply phenomenal.
Over the last decade, the number of wineries in New Zealand has doubled, the number of hectares under vine has more than tripled (from 7,410 to 25,355 hectares), and the value of exports has been multiplied nearly by ten (from 75.9 million NZ$ to 698.3 million NZ$).
In Canada as elsewhere, the signature sauvignon blanc represents the bulk of the exports, even though pinot noir is getting a lot of superlative reviews. The grapefruit-green-pepper white represented 74.5% of exports in 2007, compared to 62.5% in 2003. Pinots are at 7.7% of exports, compared with 4.6% in 2003 – faster growth, on much smaller volumes. Chardonnays represent merely 5.6% of exports. This is definitely not Australia.
In Canada, the growth is even more phenomenal. Exports of New Zealand wines to this neck of the North have been multiplied by 12 since 1997 (275 000 liters to 3.182 million liters), while the value has grown more than twentyfold, from 1.5 million NZ$ to 33.9 million NZ$.
You can check out the full (and impressive) statistics on the New Zealand Winegrowers’ website.
With such impressive figures, no wonder New Zealand is putting in the efforts to further its reach and keep the growth going. There is even a web site devoted to New Zealand wine events in Canada (as there are for the UK and the US) where you can find out about the series of wine fairs that will roll across Canada over the next couple of weeks: Vancouver on May 6, Calgary on May 8, Ottawa on May 13 and Toronto on May 15. Tickets are 50$, and part of the profits for the Ottawa and Toronto events will go to Frontier College, a national literacy organization (apparently, nothing like that seems to have been done in Calgary or Vancouver).
In each town, somewhere between 25 and 30 wineries will be present to showcase their products, many of which are not distributed in Canada yet. A great place for discoveries, both for the public and for the wine trade, who may well find some treasures to distribute in their provincial markets.
The number of small NZ wineries that we yet have to discover around here, well beyond Oyster Bay and Kim Crawford, is certainly something to look forward to. Ever heard of Gibbston Highgate, Akarua, Woollaston, Summerhouse or Konrad? If you check out the New Zealand Wine Growers’ web site, you’ll find listings for hundreds of wineries producing under 200,000 liters per year. A wealth of artisan wines that are yet to be tasted outside the country, and quite a challenge for any export strategy.