24 Aug 2009

Pull out 5,000 hectares of vines, says winemaker

10:10 pm on 24 August 2009

A leading wine industry figure says thousands of hectares of grape vines should be pulled out in Marlborough to protect the region's reputation for quality sauvignon blanc.

Jim Delegat from Delegat's Wines says excess production - some of it of inferior quality - is damaging the image of New Zealand's export wine.

Mr Delegat says much of Marlborough's excess sauvignon blanc production in the past two seasons is inferior grape juice from marginal vineyards which is ending up in wine casks in supermarkets or cut-price generic labelled bottles.

Mr Delegat is calling for up to 5,000 hectares of vines, a fifth of Marlborough's sauvignon blanc, to be pulled out so production is limited to premium quality wine.

He says Marlborough should aim to reduce production of the variety by up to 50,000 tonnes.