27 Aug 2010

Winemaker calls for grape cull

7:29 am on 27 August 2010

Leading Marlborough winemaker Ivan Sutherland says he is dismayed at a factory-type approach to producing wine in the region.

Mr Sutherland, formerly from Cloudy Bay and now the owner of Dog Point vineyard, says New Zealand's wine woes will continue as long as there is a preoccupation with production figures and sales turnover numbers.

He was speaking at the annual Romeo Bragato wine conference in Blenheim on Thursday.

Mr Sutherland says to help return Marlborough grape production to some sort of equilibrium, 15% of the sauvignon blanc crop should be pulled out.

He says there needs to be a move away from the image-damaging bulk market to a more artisan approach.

But Joe Stanton, chief executive of Constellation New Zealand - whose labels include Nobilo, Kim Crawford and Selaks, says unless there is Government support to fund a grape cull it will not happen.

He says the producing area may reduce, but only when growers under financial duress feel they have no other option.