Health-conscious millennials drive growth of organic 'bio wines'

Health-conscious millennials are being credited for the rapid growth in organic, sustainable and vegan suitable wines, according to industry experts who say more needs to be done to foster the market.

Data from liquor retail chain The Trusts West Auckland shows a 45 percent sales lift in naturally produced or organic wines over the past 12 months.

Figures from the same period suggest an otherwise flat traditional wine market - with only 3 percent growth last year.

The Trusts hospitality development manager Jenny Mukerji said globally the organic wine category was growing even faster with estimates suggesting consumption will reach 1 billion bottles per annum by 2022.

One in every 20 bottles sold in their stores was organic, sustainable or vegan. While growing across all age groups, she said they were particularly popular with millennials looking for wines aligned with their health and environmental philosophies. 

A diverse range of niche wines and subcategories was emerging to cater to the new market. 

"In addition to the organic wines which have been certified as made from grapes grown without chemical additives, we also have 'natural wines' which are fermented without commercial yeast and or chemicals," she said.

Jenny Mukerji said there had been rapid growth in organic, sustainable and vegan suitable wines.
Jenny Mukerji said there had been rapid growth in organic, sustainable and vegan suitable wines. Photo credit: Supplied

"There are also new biodynamic wines which are grown under a set of holistic biodynamic principles and practices that regard the whole vineyard as one big living organism."

Sustainable wines were also governed by production practices that were ecologically responsible and economically viable. 

"There are also vegan wines which are free from contact with any animal products during production, such as gelatin or egg white sometimes used in the fining process which softens the wine."

Professional sommelier (wine waiter) Valentina Verardo said production of organic wines had become more mainstream now.

"With more customers looking for low-sulphite wines - a component which some people can react to, wineries that were previously not producing organic wines are converting their vineyards or adding an organic wine to their portfolio," she said.

Meanwhile, Auckland based wine distributor RM Wine Partners said their growth figures in the imported organic, vegan-friendly and preservative-free wine categories mirror that of the Trusts.

He believed it was a result of an increase in consumer awareness of how a wine's origins impact its taste. 

"Organic vignerons need to care more about the vines and the vineyards, they protect it naturally from mildew and they are more particular with harvest timings. 

"There have been very good studies showing that overall, organic grapes tend to have lower yields, which gives you a better grape with more concentrated flavour and, thus, a better wine," he said.

Jenny Mukerji said the growth in the category represented a significant export opportunity for Kiwi winemakers as the traditional wine market began to plateau. 

"Local vineyards are producing some excellent innovative products and it is becoming increasingly important for them to understand the millennial segment who have reduced their consumption in other parts of the market.

"We are encouraging them to continue to invest in these categories to support both the domestic and the international markets," she said.