28 Jul 2014

NZ Winegrowers stunned by criticism

7:47 am on 28 July 2014

A claim by an Australian wine figure that New Zealand wine exporters are claiming a subsidy in and flooding the Australian market has left growers here bemused.

Australian wine icon Wolf Blass said wine companies from New Zealand had claimed about $25 million in rebates through Australia's Wine Equalisation Tax - a scheme designed to promote Australian wines.

Sixteen percent of wine in Australia came from New Zealand - and that that was far too much, he said.

However, New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said he was amused and bemused by the attack.

"Yes, the WET rebate comes to New Zealand wineries - that's because of the trade agreement called CER (Closer Economic Relations), that's been in place for 30 years," he said.

"There's no loophole here, there's no mystery - it's a legal requirement."

Mr Gregan said the accusation from Mr Blass that New Zealand's flooding the Australian market with wine was hard to swallow.

"We have to have a little bit of a laugh - Australia has a greater share of the New Zealand wine market than we do in Australia," he said.

"We don't go moaning about Australian wine in this market and we don't think they should be moaning about New Zealand wine in Australia - it's a part of international trade."