Challenges for the Wine Industry

I think there are some major issues that will affect the Global Wine Industry, some are Climate change; Water; the health lobby and wine labelling.

We differently saw a decrease in wine consumption in 2018 in the US. You can say this for many other countries and I am trying to think why? Is it that cocktails are coming back into fashion? Or is it that Spirits are becoming popular, especially Gin, or is the Craft Beer market that is taking off. I think it is all of these!!!

In California, the Craft beer market has taken off!! I have been to some breweries in Orange County that are bigger than Marisco , the winery I work for. On top of this I think America still has a fascination with cocktails. I do think Gin consumption has gone up in the world, especially China. I do think China likes the very best of the western world. Is it that the wine drinker is turning to beer or gin?? Maybe all true but China is trying to buying up the best French vineyards and California make a good Chardonnay, Just kidding California don’t make a good chardonnay, they just think they do, hehe.

I think it is a lot more serious than that. Climate change, Water use, health lobby, wine labelling. These are the major issues that the global wine industry are facing and has to try and fix.

Climate change is the big one I think, just ask anyone in Australia. Even in California or even in Oregon. All these places have or are experiencing major fires! No winery or vineyard is going to pick fruit with any signs of smoke taint. That means is you don’t pick fruit, no wine to produce, no wine to consume.

Water – Should countries be exporting precious water in bottles of cheap wine? Will people become resentful of the wine industry’s use of water, as happened in South Africa? Consumers aren’t yet talking about water usage, but that day can’t be far off, and the global wine industry will have to justify its use of irrigation.

The Health lobby – Oh yay, my favourite, the fun police. Governments are increasingly vocal about the dangers of alcohol and the World Health Organisation declared that there is no safe level of consumption of alcohol. The wine industry has imagined that it’s immune from the effects of these warnings, thinking that wine in moderation is good for you. The wine industry in general, should be wary of making any health claims about wine.

Wine Labelling – Wine sold in the EU will have an ingredients label. This means wine exporting to some important markets ( Sweden, Germany, Ireland ) will have to reveal how the wine is made. How will this react with the consumer? Will the consumer turn to more natural, un-filtered wine?

I do think that the global wine industry is very smart and the people running the wineries will not let anything drastic happen to the industry.


Global Wine Industry

Is it a good thing for NZ????? Absolutely and for Italy, France and Spain! So I found it very interesting the top 3 wine producing countries in the world and two of them are in the top 5 consumers in the world!

So in 2019 the top 10 wine producing in the world are….. and the winners are……

#1 Italy – 47.1 million hectolitres!!! Very proud that my mother is Italian !!!

#2 France – 42.1 mhl No surprises there.

#3 Spain – 33.5 mhl OH LAY !!!

#4 USA – 24.1

#5 Argentina – 13 Their vines are as high as MT Cook!!!

#6 Australia – 12 Where would they be if Kiwis didn’t drink their Shiraz

#7 Chile – 11.9

#8 South Africa – 9.7

#9 Germany – 9 Thank God for Riesling !!!

#10 China – 8.3 Watch ‘Red Obsession’ great doco!!

#14 New Zealand – 3 mhl Thank God for Sav Blanc.

I found it interesting that Germany wasn’t higher. Just quietly I think there is nothing better than a nice German Riesling! Very surprised Argentina was #5 but then again I don’t really like Lionel Messi, I’m more of a Cristiano Ronaldo fan.

So NZ was #14 producing 3 million hectolitres a year. That is 1.1% of the worlds total wine. If you think about it, that’s not bad going for our little country!

The top 5 consuming wine countries are USA, France, Italy, Germany and China. I am fascinated to see Germany in there, I thought they liked a good wheat beer. But here is something to talk about and that is Italy and France are in the top 5 consumers and the top 2 producers. I think they do like their own wine or is it that France produce the best in the world!!

New Zealanders are consuming a fairly constant 20 litres of wine per adult. So Kiwis are not drinking anymore than they were 10 years ago, only difference is we are drinking 30% of other countries wine, mainly Australia. Are our taste buds changing?

I found that nearly 90% of our wine is exported overseas!! That is $1.83 billon dollars. So the world loves our wine, just not us. Or do wineries get a lot more $$$ overseas rather than selling to the local market?

Another thing about consumption is the top 4 most expensive countries on average per US dollar to buy a bottle of wine:

NZ – $5.86 US dollars

FRA – $5.69

ITA – $3.84

AUS – $3.24

We are the most expensive place to buy wine. I still think we don’t charge enough for our wine. We could be making so much more $$$.

And my last interesting fact ( rant ) is 43% of all wine is consumed in another country than where it is produced! So I wonder if people just want something different than what they are use to or do they want something that they can compare they own wine to? This leads me to believe that our industry (the wine industry) and the Global Wine Industry is not fading away any time soon. This makes me very happy!!!!


The Market Place

I think if you want to start your own label it is very important to tell your story. Everything you do must be telling the buyer or consumer your story first.

When marketing you must remember the 4 P’s. Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. You might think your product(wine) is brilliant, but you have to convince your customer that. Its important to know your competitor too. You have to ask yourself is my product ( wine ) for the wealthy customer who knows about wine and has a small collection that would anyone jealous or for the average joe who a red with his BBQ or is it an easy drinking cheap Pinot Gris for ‘Karen’ to drink.

Price – You have to think who your product is for. Once you know that, then you can price your wine accordingly.

Place – This doesn’t mean you should try to get your wine on the top shelf of your local New World or Countdown. You must provide customers a place to find your wine. You must have a website where people can get to read and know your story and about you. These days you need to be on Facebook or Instagram, especially Instagram. The younger generation no longer use facebook, they think its a bit old school. Your website must be mobile friendly, something that is easy to read a phone screen, people live on their phones these days.

Promotion – Something I find extremely important. This doesn’t mean putting your wine on sale so people will hopefully buy it because its cheap. It is getting your product out there for everyone to see it. Maybe a way is to support or sponsor an event. For example, There is the Marlborough Wine race. It is a yacht race from the sounds to Wellington, across Cook Strait. Each boat is represented by a winery and takes their newest Sav Blanc with them in the race. Every winery that enters is promoted with flags and banners and all wines are available to drink at the prize giving. It is another way for people to see and taste your wine.

And YES the boat I was racing on WON and our wine was the NED.

Something else that is useful is a SWOT analysis. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. This can be very helpful if you do an analysis on your product and even yourself.

I think the most important thing to do and to remember is Tell Your Story !!!


In wine there are 2 types of volatile sulphur ( thiol ) compounds. Thiols are a broad term used for organic chemical compounds with a sulphur atom in place of the oxygen atom.

The 2 types are Varietal sulphur compounds and Fermentative sulphur compounds. Varietal sulphur compounds come from origins in the grape berry. Fermentative sulphur compounds are sulphur containing aroma compounds produced as products of fermentation. They typically have a negative impact on wine aroma and are commonly linked to sulphur production by yeast.

The main groups of sulphide compounds are Hydrogen sulphide ( H2O ), Mercaptans, Di-sulphides and Dimethylsulphides. All problematic sulphide compounds evolve from H2S.

Hydrogen sulphide ( H2S ) has the aroma of rotten eggs and is formed during alcoholic fermentation. Yeast will excrete H2S into the fermenting juice when the yeast starts to run out of nitrogen.

Mercaptans is a general term applied to the aroma of a range of compounds and are described as ‘cabbage’, ‘garlic’, ‘onion’, and ‘rubber’.

Disulphides are mercaptans that can be oxidised to dimethyl disulphide ( DMDS ) and diethyl disulphide ( DEDS ). The aroma of DMDS is described as ‘cooked cabbage’. The aroma of DEDS is described as burnt rubber. Dimethylsuphide ( DMS ) is one of the major compounds found in aged wines and is formed during the maturation of wine in the bottle. It is more important in red wines. The aroma of DMS is described as ‘vegy’, ‘asparagus’, ‘cooked corn’ or molasses.

To remove H2S during ferment is sparging with air or oxygen thus liberating H2S. You could feed the ferment with a nitrogen source to limit H2S release. It could be done with DAP or a yeast nutrient like GO-ferm. In wine, aeration can be used, but mostly avoided due to oxidation issues. Another way is to use copper sulphate.

To remove mercaptans, you can use copper sulphate. You must do trials on copper to ensure the minimum amount of copper is used. The legal limit of copper differs between countries. Copper is permitted by the EU to 1mg/l and 0.5mg/l for the USA.

The removal of Disulphides in wine can be difficult. Disulphides do not react to copper, so cannot be removed by copper fining. It requires the creation of reducing conditions, by the addition of Ascorbic acid. The Ascorbic acid reducers the disulphides back to mercaptans, then the mercaptans can be removed with copper.


We filter to clarify and reduce turbidty, to remove micro-organisms, yeast and bacteria. We use it to stabilise wine and to remove unwanted colour or flavour.

Filtration is mostly used at 3 critical steps of the winemaking process: Juice clarification in whites ; Finishing a wine ; At bottling.

There are different filter sizes which are coarse filtration, fine filtration, Cross flow filtration, and sterile filtration. The different filter sizes range from size of particles removed from visible particles through to removing bacteria and colloids.

The main categories of wine filtration are depth filtration, membrane filtration and cross flow filtration.

Filtration can be divided into 2 main mechanisms ; Perpendicular flow and Tangential flow. An example of perpendicular or depth filtration is a rotary vacuum filter or RDV another is Lenticular filter.

Depth filtration systems like RDV use Diatomaceous earth, Perlite, Cellulose or a combination of both. Perlite is a powder from volcanic rock, it is most commonly used in most wineries today. A lot of wineries have stopped using Diatomaceous earth because of the risk to human health.

How an RDV works is the vacuum pump pulls the wine through the filter media which is a perlite coat on the filter. A knife edge creates a new filter surface after each turn.

How a Lenticular filter works is wine is pumped through premade cartridges. The cartridges are in a ‘ bell ‘ housing. The dirty wine goes through up to 6 cartridges and clean filtered wine goes into the holding tank. They are simple to use once you are trained, but the cartridges are expensive and it does require some skill to use.

Membrane filtration is most commonly used just before the bottling line as ‘sterile filtration ‘. This is classed as ‘ absolute ‘ filter. It blocks easily so wine needs to be pre filtered first, like a cross flow or R

Oxygen and CO2

Dissolved oxygen is the concentration of oxygen molecules in a liquid. Oxidation in wine can be good or bad. It depends on wine style, variety and winemaking technique

The good is before and during fermentation. You can use it to treat faults and reducing the perception of vegetal flavours, softening astringency, stabilizing colour and tannic profiles of red wines following maceration.

The bad is after fermentation which is chemical oxidation which is browning, forming undesirable sensory compounds, aroma degradation, premature aging and oxidation of phenolic compounds.

Winery activities can pick up dissolved oxygen ( DO ) such as racking barrels, tank movements, barrel aging, fining and additions, tanks on ullage, cold stabilization and even bottling. To prevent DO pick up in the cellar is to gas empty tanks well before filling, insure clamps are tight, use gravity when possible. Maintain good SO2 levels and minimize tank ullage. Always try to sparge during wine movements and sparge with N2 gas.

There are some instruments you can use for measuring DO. They are an Electrochemical membrane sensor. Luminescent/Optical based sensor. A non-invasive luminescence. All of them have there pros and cons.

There is also dissolved carbon dioxide ( CO2 ) in wine too. The level of CO2 in a wine can greatly effect the taste of the wine, too little and the wine can seem flat and flabby and too much can cause a wine to taste harsh and tannic. Measuring CO2 can be done a number of ways, but the quickest and easiest of these is to use a Carbodoseur. How to use it is fill the measuring cylinder with 100mls of wine, take the temperature of the wine, it has to be between 0-20 degrees Celsius. Firmly shut cap and cover the end of the tube with a thumb or finger. Shake briskly. Remove thumb and allow wine to escape. Repeat process until the wine no longer escapes. Allow foam to settle and read the volume of the remaining wine in the cylinder. Take the volume and the temperature and compare them on the carbodoseur table and you will get your measurement of CO2 in your wine.