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Impact Databank: New Zealand Wine Weathers Supply Challenges, Bolsters U.S. Import Market

March 6, 2023

As the overall U.S. wine industry continues to lose volume—with even sparkling wines and wine-based cocktails slowing lately—the New Zealand category remains a bright spot. The supply chain crunch resulting from the short 2021 vintage of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc hampered the category, but export shipments to the U.S. registered yet another solid gain in 2022 at +13%, representing their 11th consecutive annual increase, excluding bulk. Growers are hopeful that a cyclone that hit the north island in recent weeks, right before the 2023 wine grape harvest is set to begin, will not cause further supply issues.

Among the largest-selling labels, Delegat’s Oyster Bay and Gallo’s Whitehaven were the fastest-growing New Zealand wines last year. American drinkers continue to enjoy kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, with that varietal accounting for well over 90% of the New Zealand sector in the U.S., according to NZ Winegrowers, although Pinot Noir has been making inroads from a small base.

Higher-priced wines also continue to drive New Zealand’s growth, as wines retailing at above $15 a 750-ml. in IRI channels surged 18.3% last year in dollar terms, compared to just 5.6% growth for those selling under $15 a bottle. Treasury Wine’s Matua label posted an impressive 9% depletions gain in the U.S. in 2022, according to Impact Databank, including 64,000 9-liter cases of better-for-you entry Matua Lighter, which nearly tripled in volume from its launch year of 2021.

The better-for-you segment has also been a boon for category leader Kim Crawford from Constellation Brands, as its line extension Illuminate registered a remarkable 66% rise to 170,000 cases in 2022, only its second full year on the market, according to Impact Databank. Kim Crawford has also received a lift from another recent launch, Sparkling Prosecco.

New Zealand has also seen a foray into the fast-growing premium non-alcoholic wine space, notably from Pacific Highway’s Giesen 0% brand, which surpassed 50,000 cases in 2022, more than quadruple its volume from the year prior. Not surprisingly, Sauvignon Blanc is the key growth driver for Giesen 0%, but its Rosé and Red extensions have also done well, and a 0% Sparkling extension will be rolling out later this spring.—Juan Banaag

Top Seven New Zealand Wine Brands in the U.S.
(thousands of 9-liter case depletions)
Rank Brand Importer 2021 2022 Percent
1 Kim Crawford Constellation Brands 1,810 1,829 1.1%
2 Oyster Bay Oyster Bay Wines USA 1,089 1,234 13.3%
3 Matua Treasury Wine Estates 763 832 9.0%
4 Whitehaven E.&J. Gallo Winery 647 737 14.0%
5 Starborough E.&J. Gallo Winery 471 464 -1.5%
6 Cupcake2 The Wine Group 476 450 -5.5%
7 Nobilo E.&J. Gallo Winery 513 446 -13.0%
Total Leading Brands3 5,768 5,992 3.9%
1 Based on unrounded data.
2 Excludes wine from other origins
3 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.
Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2023
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