NZ ratcheting up its U.S. market push

A vineyard in the Marlborough region.
From The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch.com

CHRISTCHURCH -- New Zealand believes it has the 21st Century palate figured out. The New Zealand winemakers’ flagship export -- Marlborough sauvignon blanc -- has blossomed over the last two decades. Now it is pushing the fresh white to find greater favor in high-growth markets.

The industry wants to double the value of its US$877 million wine exports by 2020. Deeper penetration into North America and China are crucial to achieving that goal.

“Our No. 1 market focus is the United States,” said Philip Gregan, chief executive of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Stylistically, we are in the right place to meet expectations of what wine should taste like in a modern lifestyle.”

Gregan says Americans “love New Zealand, even if they haven’t been here.” He hopes that hook -- combined with the unique taste of Kiwi wines -- is enough tighten its grip on the world’s biggest wine consumer.

But, saddled with a high dollar, market-access barriers and uncertainty over evolving Asian wine appetites, the tiny island nation faces stiff headwinds as it seeks to expand its global presence.

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