Domestically, the market for wine in New Zealand has become very congested and even over-crowded. There are simply too many brands and labels out there. Many producers now offer more than 1 label as part of their business strategy. This is done essentially to meet the market at a range of different price points. The last 7 years have been a great time for the consumer in New Zealand. Prices have never been sharper. It has got to the point of being ridiculous and unsustainable.
Another recent example occurred in April, 2015 with Ngatarawa Stables, a Hawkes Bay brand, produced by New Zealand’s first family of winemaking, the Corbans ( Alwyn and Brian Corban ), offering through the Henry’s stores ( owned by Foodstuffs NZ Ltd ) their 750ml bottle varietals and their 375ml bottle 2013 Late Harvest wine (excluding Reserves) at $9.99 per bottle. A late harvest wine will have been picked at very low crop yields- akin to picking moist raisins. The juice extraction is minimal and highly concentrated with sugar. The risks and costs involved in making a naturally botrytized wine make it necessarily more expensive to produce. The bottle, labels, and general packaging are specific to that wine when using a 375ml bottle. The standard retail price for late harvest wines in a 375ml bottle in New Zealand will usually range from $25.00 to $40.00. Even at these prices the return to the producer will be marginal to say the least.
The marketing of wine in New Zealand is very much over-hyped and over-heated. Prices are being kept at artificially low levels. Is it any wonder that we are considered a nation of heavy drinkers! The bigger producers dominate the distribution chains. The supermarket groups dominate the retail sector. Many of the restaurant wine lists are similarly set up. Where will it all end up?
BARRY JOHNS ( aka Le Vigneron )