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About this Site
edited by Sue Courtney
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About New Zealand Wine
and Wine Industry Statistics
(with updates as they come to hand)
Updated: 13 Jun 2007
© Sue Courtney

[ Jump to the Statistics section ] [ Jump to the Regional Guides index ] [ NZ Wine laws ]


New Zealand is one of the flavours of the month when it comes to wine. It’s rather exciting for a country that produces less than one percent that the world’s total production. Blame the influential international wine media who rave about the sensational Sauvignon Blancs and the perfect Pinot Noirs. It’s not surprising that everyone wants to know more about the country that makes these palate-pleasing wines.

Map of NZ Wine Regions, copyright Sue Courtney

In terms of geography the three main islands - the North Island, the South Island and Stewart Island - rise out of the South Pacific Ocean along the boundary of the Indian-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates. Draw a rectangle bounded by the longitude coordinates 166° 15' in the west, 178° 45' in the east, and the southern latitude coordinates 34° in the north to 48° in the south and you'll find the spot. (Ref - The New Zealand Atlas, Heinemann, 1987).

Although a land of contrasts with a temperate maritime climate that's subtropical in the north and hard and barren in the deep south where fresh unused air blows straight off the South Pole, vineyards are found throughout the country.

Regions such as Hawkes Bay, Martinborough, Marlborough and Central Otago have world renown and take central stage in most vinous articles or tourist itineraries. Other long established regions include Auckland, Gisborne, Nelson, Canterbury and Waipara while vineyards fan out from Martinborough into the greater Wairarapa. However New Zealand is such a young wine country and vineyards are planted almost everywhere with someone hoping to find the spot that will become the next vinous real estate pot of gold. Could it be in the Waitaki Valley, the border region between South Canterbury and North Otago?

At the time of writing New Zealand's most northerly vineyard is Karikari Estate at Whatuwhiwhi on the Cape Karikari Peninsula. It yielded its first harvest in 2001 with the grapes being transported to New Zealand's then most northerly winery, Okahu Estate near Kaitaia, for processing. However Karikari Estate has since built a winery, which is now the country's most northern. The most southerly vineyard is at Te Anau and although a trial to test the potential of the region, it creates interest for tourists on route to Milford Sound. When the grapes are harvested they will be processed near Queenstown at Peregrine Wines. Also in the deep south is the Margaret John Vineyard at Ettrick, south of Roxburgh, about half an hours drive south of the most southerly winery at Black Ridge in Alexandra.

What does New Zealand do best? Undoubtably Sauvignon Blanc. It’s the uniqueness of our climate and soil, says Sauvignon Blanc expert, Dr Denis Dubourdieu of the University of Bordeaux. With excellent export propsects for our uniquely flavoured wine it’s our most planted wine grape variety, ahead of Chardonay and Pinot Noir.

Take a look at the regional guides (links below) to learn more about the New Zealand wine regions.

Wine Industry Statistics

The New Zealand Winegrowers 2005 Annual Report, for year ended 30th June 2005, lists 516 licensed wineries, an increase of 53 over the previous year and 85 more than in 2003. There are also an additional 825 growers, an increase of 232 over 2004. Marlborough is the leading area with 101 wineries and 415 growers. Producing vineyards cover 19,960 hectares and that figure is expected to increase to approximately 22,000 hectares in 2007.

2004 was a vintage that achieved expectations with a total harvest of 166,000 tonnes, an increase of 89,100 tonnes (117%) over the previous year. The record was a combination of an increase in producing area and favourable weather conditions during flowering in the spring and through the growing and ripening season, which returned crops to normal yields in all areas except Central Otago. Marlborough on its own produced more grapes in 2004 that the whole of New Zealand in 2003. Marlborough, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay were responsible for 92% of the harvest. Click here for the 2004 vintage report.

In contrast 2005 produced lower yeilds in several areas, thanks to the coldest December on record. However crops bounced back during the fantastic start to the 2005 year to produce good quality fruit full of flavour. The season came to a bit of an abrupt end in the South Island, when frost caught some of the later crops before they were harvested. While another record year was initially expected, 2005 produced only the second highest harvest in total of tonnes, and was actually lower than 2000 and 2002 in terms of grape yield to vineyard ratio. Click here for the 2005 vintage report.

In 2006, the targets were back on track with an 11% increase on the 2004 record harvest brought about by good weather and an 18% increase in vineyard land. Click here for the 2006 vintage report.

In 2007 there was an 11% increase again and while yields of Chardonnay increased by 44%, our biggest export earners, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir increased and decreased yields by 6% respectively. Click here for the 2007 vintage report.

New Zealand Grape Producing Area
by Grape Variety (hectares)

Variety 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009*
Sauvignon Blanc 4,516 5,897 7,277 8,860 10,491 13,988 14,735
Chardonnay 3,515 3,617 3,804 3,779 3,918 3,881 3,915
Riesling 653 666 811 853 868 917 928
Muller Thurgau 256 155 137 116 106 79 78
Pinot Gris 316 381 489 762 1,416 1,383 1,460
Semillon 257 306 240 229 230 199 183
Gewurztraminer 197 210 257 284 293 316 316
Chenin Blanc 108 72 58 59 50 50 47
Muscat Varieties 134 136 139 140 139 135 125
Reichensteiner 59 61 59 61 66 72 72
Pinot Noir 2,624 3,239 3,757 4,063 4,441 4,702 4,753
Merlot 1,249 1,487 1,492 1,420 1,447 1,383 1,367
Cabernet Sauvignon 741 687 614 531 524 516 517
Cabernet Franc 180 213 180 164 168 166 165
Malbec 152 168 163 155 160 156 157
Syrah 134 183 211 214 257 278 290
Pinotage 82 82 85 90 88 74 74
Other & Unknown 627 552 1,229 836 963 1,087 1,926
Total 15,800 17,809 21,002 22,615 25,355 29,310 31,057

*2009 is estimated

 New Zealand Grape Producing Data by Region




No. of Wineries

No. of Growers


2004 2005 2004 2005 2005 2005







Waikato/Bay of Plenty














Hawkes Bay










































Other & Unknown ***














* Wellington includes Martinborough and Wairarapa
** Canterbury includes Waipara and South Canterbury
*** Includes the difference between tonnes crushed in total by the wine industry and the total submitted by those wineries who responded to the survey.

Related Link:
Industry statistics for 2001 - 2006 are summarised here.

Regional Guides
Click on the links to find out more, including the variety statistics for each region.

Greater Auckland
Waiheke Island
Waikato / Bay of Plenty
Hawkes Bay
Wellington and Wairarapa
Central Otago
Watch this space for more to come.

Some rules relating to New Zealand Wine
What must a wine producer state on a bottle of New Zealand wine? Well, the answer is, "it varies".
Why does it vary? Because it depends on the laws of the country where the wine is being sold.
New Zealand Wine Law differs to the wines laws of the European Union and the USA. Our largest export country is the United Kingdom, so those wine-savvy producers will use the stricter EU rules on their wine that is sold in several markets.

Variety Statement for 2006 vintage wines and older
If a single grape variety is stated on a bottle of New Zealand wine, eg it is labelled as 'Cabernet Sauvignon', then a percentage of undisclosed grapes may be in the wine. The percentage will differ depending on the wine law of the country where the wine is sold.

  • If the wine is sold only in the New Zealand market only, the NZ wine law applies. The wine must be 75% true to the stated variety.
  • If the wine is sold in European Union countries or the USA, it must be 85% true to stated variety.

If more than one single grape variety is stated on the label, eg Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, again the rules differ depending on where the wine is sold. The varieties must be listed in descending order of proportion.

  • If the wine is sold only in the New Zealand market only, the NZ wine law applies. The wine must be 75% true to the stated varieties.
  • If the wine is sold in European Union countries or the USA, it must be 100% true to stated varieties.

The same applies for region and vintage statements - substitute 'region' or 'vintage' for 'grape variety' above.

Changes from 2007
For all wines labelled as a 2007 vintage wine (and later), the 75% rule has been revoked and all wines made must conform to the 85% rule.

  • a label that claims the wine is a single grape variety, a single vintage or from a single area must be at least 85% from the stated variety, vintage or area. For example, if a label says the wine is ‘2007’, at least 85% of that wine must be from the 2007 vintage.
  • label that states the wine is a blend of grape varieties, vintages or areas of origin, at least 85% of the blend must be from the stated varieties, vintages or areas. For example, if the wine label says ‘Chardonnay Chenin Blanc, then at least 85% of that wine must have been made from chardonnay and chenin blanc grapes.
  • Where a label claims the wine is a combination of grape variety, vintage, and area of origin, the combination referred to must be at least 85% of that wine. For example, if a label states that the wine is a ‘2008 Marlborough Pinot Noir’, then 85% of the wine must be from the 2008 vintage AND be from Marlborough AND be made from pinot noir grapes.

This change brings New Zealand into line with international protocols for wine label statements.

Alcohol Content
If wine is sold as table wine in New Zealand, the maximum alcohol by volume content allowed is 15%. Above 15%, higher rates of excise tax are imposed.

Dessert Wines
I'm often asked about New Zealand dessert wines and why they can't be found in the UK. Anne-Marie McKenzie, Export Manager of the Wine Institueof New Zealand provides the facts. She says "No dessert wine from New Zealand is allowed into Europe. It is essentially a non-tariff barrier and whilst Philip [Gregan, CEO of the Wine Institute] has been negotiating for a derogation on this, they will only pursue the issue if we agree to abide by their rules on use of traditional terms on labels, which we won't."

Labelling information sources
Wine Institute of New Zealand
New Zealand Wine and Food Regulations
EU Labelling Requirements for New Zealand wines

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