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Angus Kebbell delves into why New Zealand's southern wine industry is so successful and its products so well regarded in world markets

Angus Kebbell delves into why New Zealand's southern wine industry is so successful and its products so well regarded in world markets

New Zealand’s wine industry is becoming an increasingly important sector for our overall exports. It is New Zealand’s sixth largest export merchandise category, shipped to more than 100 countries and these exports exceed $1.9 bln annually which is up +6% on last year.

Working with New Zealand wine growers this weekly show will delve into New Zealand’s grape growing regions and industry, we will be looking at sustainability and the different varieties that are making waves in our international markets. We will a focus on the people and characters that bring your favourite bottle to life.

New Zealand’s wine industry is young by global standards but it has quickly become a respected wine producer. Our wine regions are typically found, with some exceptions, on the east coasts of both the North and South Islands and each region and sub region contain their own unique soil and climatic conditions.


Due to the apline spine, the east coasts are typically dry as these mountains block our predominant weather which flows from the North West to South West directions. With irrigation, water application can be managed which gives the wine grower some control over the performance of the grape vines and ultimately the concentration of the fruit.

New Zealand is home to the world’s most southerly vineyards and they benefit from the moderating effect of our maritime climate. The long sunshine hours and cool nights provide perfect environments for grapes to thrive.

Over the next two episodes I am taking a look at Marlborough and what makes this region so suitable for Sauvignon Blanc, what sustainability efforts are being made in the region, and how water is becoming an increasingly important resource.

To get the full story download the podcast.

Angus Kebbell is the Producer at Tailwind Media. You can contact him here.

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For those of us that are time- pressed, podcasts simply take too long. I tuned in to the start but it was taking too long to cut to the chase.

Awwe come on, what are you, a millennial or something wanting it all right now.
Totally agree Keith. Hate video stuff for the same reason, I'm a slow reader but is still much more of pain to watch.
My other real hate on those lines is items indicating that they are videos only to find they are a series of stills with captions, hate that entirely.
Sorry, wines pretty good.

Keith, as someone who is similarly time-challenged, the beauty of a podcast is being able to listen to it while exercising, driving, cooking or any other task where visual consumption mediums are unsuitable. 30 minutes is fairly standard for a podcast. It seems the main issue is not the podcast duration, but whether you're optimising the medium as well as the format (i.e. it sounds like you'd prefer an executive summary at the beginning of the podcast).

Nope. I am more than happy to spend time getting into the nitty gritty of issues, but I am looking for content, not fluff, and with podcasts I cannot filter in a time-efficient way. I do allocate 20 minutes to Country Calendar each week - pre recorded so that we can churn through the ads at a rate of +30X. I find those progammes uplifting, even if with an element of slightly superficial romanticsim at times. Some wonderful stories. When driving, that time is allocated to music plus thinking time. Exercise is also thinking time. So podcasts miss out unless they are very special.

Agree on Country Calendar - some real gems there. I'm old enough to remember A Dog's Show - local content has come a long way.

Out of curiosity, have you found any podcasts which meet your criteria for being very special?

Exports may be dominated by the whites such as the Sauvignon Blancs; but you really can't go past a Hawke's Bay red - the Syrahs in particular - great drinking and excellent value.

HB Syrah is outstanding. A mate of mine won best Shyrah, best Red and best overall wine at the NZ Wine awards with one of the early HB Syrah's. Legend!

Syrah is fun but the Gisborne organic Chards whet my whistle..

Pretty hard to beat a good Otago Pinot Noir

Gimblett Gravels - amazing.
I have to say though, for kiwis NZ wines don't offer great value for money. I can get Spanish reds at $15, equivalent in quality to NZ reds at $22-$25.

Helped start up a vineyard back in '93-'96. Backbreaking work even with a post driving vibrator ( 4 at a time) on flat and steep, north-facing Central Otago block.Majority Pinot Noir and a few other varieties planted over that timespan.
Year and years of seasonal pruning, spraying, netting and hand-picking ( that's' what families are for I guess!) and after 15 years? The whole lot was cut down and the flatter areas turned into cherry production. Why? The natural and market risks involved; the time needed and the returns after costs and labour (family isn't enough at times) it wasn't worth it, and no one else wanted to take it on as a going concern with the explosion of subsequent plantings down there.
The vision of sipping a glass of one's own vino; as the sun goes down, gazing out over your own vineyard is what attracts the next naive lot of 'labour'.
Vineyards? Best left to the mass producers to fight it out for market share.

It's a game for the big boy's. My merlot price has dropped from $2800 a tonne to $1248 this year. It's so dominated by corporates there isn't much room for family units.

Ask the wineries how much sugar they add, should be on the bottle ( also include syrup from other grapes) Those guy's buy sugar 50 tonnes at a time. I always think the secret to savi blanc is, pick it green to get those grassy flavours and then add sugar to make it drinkable.

Andrewj to be honest there isn't much room for "family units" in any primary production enterprise. They're just too small to be economic. The big producers get the first and early attention from the buyers and can negotiate prices based on volume. I grew citrus for a while but ripped all the trees and farm a few more head of beef.. more money and way less hassle. Got some nice flat hay paddocks now

Talked to a farm consultant last week, told me lots of corporates want out, no money in their farming systems. We need to cut red tape and led little guys sell direct, it's the small outfits that innovate the big guys just want more regulation to stop competition.

Yeah that's the problem though. Big outfits only want to deal with other big outfits. As a citrus grower I couldn't supply my local supermarkets even though it was fresher and cheaper for the same quality. Even if "little guys " could sell direct you'd still get undercutting and backdoor deals.

I think that could be why NZ primary production was built on co ops . Problem now is the land and business take so much capital there's not much left over to invest in the next part of the chain.

You should get James May and Oz Clark to do a NZ Big Wine Adventure here that would help to promote our fantastic wines here! And help to increase the pricing overseas. They covered France, UK and US Wines why not our part of the world?! :)

Trailer Oz & James Big French Wine Adventure:

Andrewj, I never find an admission of sugar on the bottle label. It's relatively easy to find lists of the sugar content added to wines for elsewhere in the world, but I have struggle in NZ!! I don't like sweeter wines in general, so would be thrilled to know who puts the least sugar in!

I am not able to name names but I know my grape rep supplies sugar in 50 tonne truck loads to various wineries, however the EU does not allow added sugar so they use grape syrup.
I suppose you could use a refractometer, grapes have high sugars to start with though.

The NZ Wine Industry has a lot going for it and I think it's very much under rated. Just don't let the American market tamper with it. If you haven't seen this documentary "Sour Grapes" on how one person in the US almost destroyed the French Burgundy wine market and you want to invest in wine, or just like wine it's a must see. By the way, this is not a depressing documentary in some ways it's very funny and bizarre and help to expose some of what went on with the GFC. Oh and it was a woman that saw through the wine bravado and spotted the fake wines.

Here's the Sour Grapes film trailer (It's available on demand or via Netflix):

True but how much of it is worth drinking let alone investing in. NZ wines need more promotion because they so wonderful. :)

actually French wine has come a long way in the last couple of decades, lots of new world wine makers in the French industry.

I'll take your word for it, most Brits tend to describe French wines as plonk. ;)

That's cos most Brits are unsophisticated cheap swill drinkers. Only buy the plonk. Lets face it.. wine is hardly a goto for the fish,chips and a snarler brigade

You have a very outdated point of view Hook, Brits simply don't like Plonk. Perhaps you've been drinking too much cheap plonk. Why not promote good NZ wine which most Brits prefer. :)

Your point of view may be correct Hook, but very naive to take such stereotypes into business - I think the rest of the wine world will have serious strategies to ‘crack’ the UK. Wine had been, until the explosion in micro-breweries in the last couple of years, out selling beer in the UK. A lot of fools with money who like a drink, but don’t like being insulted without foundation!

Southern France, Rose with a couple of rounds of soft cheese and a baguette. That's dinner for 2 sorted with a more than passable wine for about 10 euros. Well it was about 5 years ago.

Gen Z and M giving up on booze or never started...its up to the Boomer generation to fill the gap. It appears they gave taken that challenge up consumption is well up...well done. Lots of conversations on house prices up and 2020 is shaping up to be a great vintage.

Apparently there's a big surge in the consumption of wine in China that has increased almost five-fold since 2000 and sales of foreign wines have surged. Though Trump has shot the US wine industry in the foot with all the tariffs on China and Europe. Hopefully that's a trade void we can fill since China turns to non US suppliers (Just don't let the buy out the entire vineyard).

BBC article: How the US-China trade war squeezes California's wine country.
Advisor article: Trump’s Tariffs on European Wine Backfire on US Wine Industry.

Yes, the Chinese are drinking a more wine, and also producing a lot more wine. The Chinese wine can be both good and bad. Also there is considerable imported wine. Chinese mainly drink red wine and NZ largely produces white wine. NZ wines has been there in the market for at least ten years but it is a challenging market with so many competitors.
Keith W