RTTNews - Wine exports from New Zealand registered a strong growth of 28% for the year to date in 2009, the New Zealand Winegrowers said Monday.

The 2009 grape harvest reached 285,000 tonnes, in line with output levels of last year, but higher than the pre-harvest expectation of 275,000 tonnes, the group said.

New Zealand Winegrowers' CEO, Philip Gregan, said the industry had worked hard in the past year to keep volumes at last year's levels to maintain quality.

We enjoyed a very good growing season this year. Some early humidity and weather pressure in February was replaced by a superb March and April. This meant our growers and wineries

were able to pick the grapes at optimal ripeness, Gregan said.

Further, Gregan pointed out that the record vintage for 2008 was the main driver of export growth of 28% for the year 2009, which would mean the group would achieve the target of NZ$1 billion wine exports this year itself, one year earlier than forecast.

Despite the strong growth in exports, there has been downward pressure on prices in the short-term given the global recession and market conditions. The prospect of some outstanding wines from the 2009 vintage will help underpin our price premium,Gregan added.

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