Wine lovers may face price bump after small harvest dents supply

Wine lovers may soon have to pay more for New Zealand wines after a tough year for growers.

Our biggest growing region, Marlborough, had its smallest crop in five years. Now as demand increases winemakers are having to decide who they can supply.

The barrels in Palliser Estate's barrel hall are stacked up after this year's vintage harvest. Two rows of empty chardonnay barrels would normally be full. But they're not after one of this Wairarapa winery's smallest harvests ever.

"We've been planted since 1987 and it was third-to-lowest yield in that period," chief winemaker Guy McMaster says.

Some of our biggest labels are feeling the bittersweet taste too - Villa Maria is down nearly a quarter on last year.

"Certainly the smallest harvest we've had since 2015," Villa Maria chief marketing officer Matt Deller says.

It's a theme across the country thanks to a cool spring and later frosts that have led to a nationwide drop of 19 percent in the volume of grapes harvested.

The most impacted parts of the country were Marlborough, north Canterbury, Nelson and Wairarapa. Central Otago was the only region to buck the trend.

That will put pressure on supply to domestic and international markets.

"Who can they supply, who can't they supply and I'm sure many are going to be looking for price increases as well to cover their increased costs this year," NZ Wine CEO Philip Gregan says.

"We're increasing our prices a little bit in all major markets. Here in New Zealand we won't be increasing prices on shelf this year," Deller explains.

That's good news for Kiwi consumers. But Newshub understands other winemakers may have to up their prices locally.

And at a time demand for our fine wine worldwide is growing, winemakers are having to pick and choose who gets what.

"Sixty percent of our product goes offshore so we've had to put some of those markets onto allocation," McMaster says.

"We're going to supply all of them but we're going to supply them a little bit less," Deller adds.

With the hopes there will be more grapes to turn into more wine next year.