Future of New Zealand wine: More growing regions, varieties

The 2018 season was the second hottest on record and very trying for some, The NZ Winegrowers Research Centre says.

Development manager Tracy Benge says two regions in particular were affected, Marlborough and Central Otago.

"Marlborough had the hottest season on record since grapes were first planted here in 1973, that was followed by the wettest February on record and three cyclones," she told Newshub.

And Central Otago was similar, she says.

"They had the hottest season on record, they then had three of the wettest months on record and unprecedented heatwaves."

The different seasons and the temperature could affect how the grapes grew and how they developed over the season, according to NIWA climate scientist Petra Pearce.

"Also over harvest time heavy rain events can really disrupt the harvest and the quality of the grapes," she says.

This season's severe weather events and funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) prompted NZ Winegrowers to research climate change and the sector's future.

"We're producing an atlas for climate change projections for the wine industry so they can use that for future planning and strategy," Ms Pearce says.

It would also identify areas which were not warm enough to grow grapes now, but could be in the future, she says.

"That research should be out in the next few months."

Ms Benge said the second phase would look at the effects on the wine industry and then how it could mitigate and adapt to the changes.

But even with a 3degC increase in temperature the local climate would still be considered "cool" for grape growing - unlike in Australia - she says.

"Australians are investing a lot of research into looking into things like sunscreen products and covers for grapes."

For now local wines will remain as they are, but there could be more varieties in the future.