An Overview on New Zealand Winemaking Industry and the Chinese Wine Market

Photo & Text :Maxime LU

Source: ProWine China

In February, I was invited to visit most major wine regions in New Zealand. During the visit, I visited some chateaus with different styles and attended Regional Wines Tastings, which presented a complete picture of the southern-most wine producing country in the world. New Zealand wines feature consistent quality and reasonable price. They are lively, pure and full-bodied. They have clean aromas and distinctive characters. In particular, they boast of rich diversity, which is openly criticized by a lot of Chinese wine enthusiasts.

New Zealand stretches roughly 1,600 km from the North Island (36° S) to Central Otago (47° S), the world’s southern-most wine region. The country has a maritime climate, with all vineyards lying less than 130 km to the coast. Plenty of sunshine in the daytime and cool sea breeze at night result in big temperature difference in many wine regions, offering ideal production conditions for the growth of wine grapes. Being a coastal country, New Zealand rarely has extreme weather conditions. In addition, due to frequent crustal activities (numerous earthquakes and volcanoes), the change of river channels and human factors, New Zealand has complicated ground features and landforms, diverse soil constitutions as well as extremely different microclimates in different parcels. All these terroirs guarantee the diversity of local wines.

Another aspect worth noting is that grape planting in New Zealand originated in 1819, while the country’s winemaking industry hadn’t taken off until forty years ago, not being fettered by traditions. Rapid promotion of new technologies and constant innovation have been witnesses ever since. Meanwhile, local terroirs have been explored. Thanks to these efforts, the grape planting and winemaking techniques of the country’s winemaking industry have reached the world’s top level. The research on the microclimates and parcels in grape planting regions has reached a high level. As a result, the features of different parcels can be fully utilized. For instance, Pinot Noir grown in Wairarapa, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury/Waipara Valley and Central Otago all have unique regional characteristics.

In terms of area, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are New Zealand’s leading varieties. In addition, there are quite a few aromatic varieties, such as Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Many winemaking practitioners are from other countries, where different grape varieties are planted. They are seeking for ideal vineyards to plant new varieties, such as Sangiovese, Malbec, Tempranilo, Albarino and Gruner Veltliner. New grape varieties with outstanding characteristics are planted. The diversification of grape varieties will be a trend of the country’s winemaking industry.

According to data of 2014, the overall plantings in New Zealand is 35,510 ha (1% higher than 2013), less than one-third of that of Bordeaux. The country produced 320 million liters of wine in that year, accounting for only 1% of the world’s total. New Zealand’s winemaking industry is small in scale. However, the unit price of wine ranks high among all wine producing countries. Therefore, the country pursues the strategy of offering wine with top quality. In New Zealand, 95% of chateaus are members of Sustainable Wine Growing New Zealand (SWNZ), and some of them even meet the standards of carbon neutrality.

New Zealand’s forward-looking winemaking industry strives to promote government legislation in a bid to enhance IPR protection and crack down on counterfeiting and infringement on local varietals. In April 2015, New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development and New Zealand Winegrowers jointly declared to establish the Geographical Indications (GI) system to protect the country’s internationally famed winemaking regions and varietals. It’s expected that the system will be established by the end of this year.

New Zealand winemaking industry entered the Chinese market in 2007. At that time, French wines dominated China’s imported wine market. In 2008, China and New Zealand signed the Free Trade Agreement, a turning point for the promotion of New Zealand wines in China. Soon, China rose to New Zealand’s biggest trading partner. According to the FTA between the two countries, zero tariffs will be imposed on New Zealand wines exported to China as from January 1, 2012, further cementing the confidence of New Zealand winemaking industry.

In market expansion, New Zealand winemaking industry is also pragmatic and ambitious. The growth rate of export value of wines is the highest of the country’s exported goods. In the end of 2014, wine ranked No.6 in the country’s exports.

With a small winemaking industry, New Zealand pursues the path of providing the finest varietal wines. Based on research and analysis on the Chinese wine market with huge potential, the country has worked out pragmatic and forward-looking promotional plans. Several years ago, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and New Zealand Winegrowers jointly introduced the highly efficient Wine High Impact Programme. Under the programme, influential wine experts from New Zealand participated in various campaigns in the Chinese wine market to build the country’s image as a leading winemaker.

Selected measures in recent years:
– Launching a dedicated Chinese website to promote New Zealand wines;
– Organizing New Zealand wine trade fairs regularly, with workshops, symposiums and food & wine matching dinners;
– Organizing delegations to participate in the most influential local wine trade fairs, such as Prowine China;
– Organizing key opinion leaders (KOL) and experts in China’s winemaking industry for study tours in New Zealand’s winemaking regions, and establishing KIWI CLUB for networking to enable more consumers to gain a knowledge of New Zealand wines;
– Carrying out traditional and social media-based marketing campaigns, for instance, interacting with consumers and publishing information via Weibo (microblog) and WeChat;
– Offering educational programs for New Zealand winemaking practitioners, for instance, holding workshops in the country to help local wineries to gain a better understanding of the Chinese market, so as to work out effective development strategies and expansion plans.

Meanwhile, New Zealand winemaking industry often launches training programs on local wines. For instance, in April, top wine masters from the country offered New Zealand wine certification programs for professionals. In addition to tier-1 cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, training and certification systems are expected to cover tier-2 and tier 3 cities leading wine consumption.

Thanks to consistent efforts of New Zealand winemaking industry, the country’s wine exports to China rose from 268,000 liters (RMB 12.5 million in value) in 2007 to 1,920,000 liters (RMB 131 million in value) in 2014. In 2014, China became New Zealand’s sixth biggest destinations of wine exports, ranking after Australia, the U.S., the UK, Canada and the Netherlands.

Since the second half of 2012, the Chinese wine market has witnessed continued depression due to policy changes. In particular, the year 2014 is regarded as the most sluggish period. China’s total wine imports decreased by 5.7% compared with that of 2013. Nevertheless, wines imported from New Zealand rose by 34% in value and 11% in quantity during the same period. New Zealand wines have further expanded the share in China’s imported wine market. New Zealand winemaking industry has seen more potential in the Chinese market.

New Zealand winemaking industry has much confidence and expectations on the Chinese market. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and New Zealand Winegrowers have jointly defined the goal towards the Chinese market in the next 5 years: The country’s wine exports to China will reach NZ$150 million by 2020. We are keen to see whether the goal will be realized.

– LU Jiang ( Maxime LU )




官方数据要到六月初才能对外公布,不过目前所有的报告都显示: 新西兰2015年普遍干燥的气候,和部分地区的早期霜冻使得今年成为产量很低的一年。




收获季节开始的早也结束的早。葡萄种植者Callum Linklater说,“我们三月初期开始采收黑皮诺,而大部分葡萄园在四月第一周采收工作就已完成。”

今年的收获季是Cloudy Bay有过最早的一次之一。酿酒师Nick Blampied-Lane描述长相思为“饱满成熟的水果——不是能够清晰感受到绿色风味的年份,有白色核果的味道。”

至于黑皮诺,被Seresin Estate的酿酒师Clive Dougall描述为,“果味浓郁,单宁并不过分强劲”,平衡,酒精度并不突出,仅为12.5%-13%。


在黑皮诺为主的产区中奥塔哥。季初温暖,但紧接着11月的寒流来袭,山区可见降雪。“我们在户外行走时带着毛绒绒的帽子,葡萄藤在11月停止生长了。”  Prophet’s Rock的Paul Pujol这样形容 .

葡萄园接下来赶上了温暖的十二月、一月和二月。这三个月非常干燥。虽然二月的雨水带来了菌病的压力,但是雨水和滴灌都未能完全解决葡萄园干旱的问题。中奥塔哥葡萄种植者协会的发言人James Dicey这样讲。



新西兰北岛的霍克湾,在连续两年大丰收之后,又迎来一个好年份。此前担心气旋帕姆会为本区带来恶劣影响,但结果只是一个有些潮湿的周末“降雨量不足35mm,仅为之前预报的1/4.”此后一切如常。Sacred HIll 的Tony Bish评论说,“2013和2014都是特别好的年份。你不能指望每一年都达到这样的水准,但2015也并没有差很多。10分满分制我可以打到7或者8.”







今年依然延续了持续十年之久的早收趋势,尤其是克莱尔谷,今年是它最早进行采收工作的年份之一。Barry Wines的酿酒师Peter Barry认为不能把克莱尔谷的情况简单总结为未预测到,“我们采收赤霞珠的同时绝不可能采收西拉和雷司令。西拉和雷司令的采收时间上确实还有一些重叠,但赤霞珠和它们绝对是没有的。今年是我们采收红葡萄最早的年份,很不寻常。”


恰巧Barry数月之前曾购买了一台筛选和破碎机,能够配合红白葡萄品种同时收获,“谢天谢地不然我们真是无处堆放,虽然产量还是下跌了。” 一些种植红葡萄品种的葡萄园产量下跌了60%,然而,“雷司令要比去年更好。红葡萄品种的品质非常不错。虽然乳酸发酵还没有完成,但是我们已经确认这批葡萄将用于酿造高端酒比如Armagh”。


澳大利亚葡萄研究所种植学家Mardi Longbottom博士,与全区的种植者和生产者打交道,认为同时采收白葡萄和红葡萄品种确实是极其少见的情形。



玛格丽特河今年创造了一个极好年份,虽然春季的风暴减少了产量,尤其是霞多丽。Vasse Felix的酿酒师Virginia Willcock因此喜忧参半,“玛格丽特河霞多丽的需求量是很大的,尤其是品质这么好,却没有足够的量供应。赤霞珠也是。”

维多利亚的莫宁顿半岛是优秀的黑皮诺和霞多丽的产区。 Kooyong 和Port Phillip 的酿酒师Sandro Mosele讲,“按照官方说法,这是一个非常有前途的年份。但个人角度去看,它也许是我所亲自经历过的,产出酒体最平衡、优雅、精致的年份。”



虽然官方完整数据还未出炉,澳大利亚酿酒师联盟CEO Paul Evans总结,“泛泛的讲,今年有一个匆忙的收获季。天气对大多数葡萄园来说是友好的。品质优秀。我听说在有些地方被描述为‘教科书’一样完美”。尽管在部分地区出现了暴雨、大风以及野火等情形,因在生长季后期,并未有大影响,Evan说,“整体的共识是我们躲过了一劫。”

但是在猎人谷,暴雨是这个2015需要面对的严峻挑战,。夏季暴雨影响到了收成,尤其是在 Pokolbin地区,一些葡萄园受到了冰雹袭击。








北部生长季干燥炎热的天气将收获季节提前了几周。果串儿大,产量高,需要通过绿色采收(Green Harvest)控制葡萄生产量,保持果实充分成熟。 这个长年干燥的地区,在3月25号这一天的不到12个小时内降下了相当于该地区七年降雨总量的雨水,像是大自然把它寄存的降雨一次性都还给了它。甚至几个世纪没有见过雨水的阿塔卡马沙漠( Atacama desert )的局部地区也受到了雨水的洗礼。危险的泥石流是致命的,所幸对查尼亚腊尔(Chanaral)的葡萄园只产生了轻微影响。在利马里谷(Limari),收获工作因雨暂停了几天直到完全干燥起来。不过对于这个原本异常干旱的地区,大雨其实是福非祸。


沿海岸线向前直到卡萨布兰卡(Casablanca),今年不仅天气炎热,而且曾在产区和产区之间,靠近港口城市 瓦尔帕莱索(Valparaiso)的地方燃起过一场野火,还好葡萄园并未因此受损。“2015是个丰收的年份,我们有温暖的夏季和秋季,总体比前一年的降水量也要低。” Felipe Garcia 评论说,“我们今年产量正常,但是糖分含量偏高。因此我们在还在葡萄未完全成熟时就已经对部分进行采摘(为了保持酸度).”

对于甚至更为炎热的中央山谷的部分地区来说,简直如同一场与自然争夺酸度的战役。还好三月的雨水让生产者感到解脱。 “今年非常不寻常,因为春末非常炎热,糖分含量会因此偏高。”De Martino的Marcelo Retamal这样讲“但之后我们迎来了一场大范围内的及时的雨水,这意味着糖分降低,我们将拥有适宜的酒精度和酸度,和平衡的酒体。今年的酸度还是比迈坡谷(Maipo)的平均水平要低,但没有成熟度问题。我还不知道这是否是个杰出年份,还需要点时间来判断,我知道的是今年是非常特别的一年。起初我很沮丧,在大雨之后却意外的迎来了反转的希望。”


即使在气候凉爽些的南部产区,比如伊塔塔(Itata)和比奥比奥(Bio Bio)。今年夏季温度最高在35度左右,这对于这个地区来说,已是不寻常的高温。幸运的是老藤与这炎热的天气很合拍,果实可预见的平衡感比平时更好。同时,今年降水比往年更少。