This programme is the largest research and development effort ever undertaken by New Zealand’s wine industry. Lighter Wines (formerly Lifestyle Wines) is designed to position New Zealand as number 1 in the world for high quality, lower alcohol and lower calorie ‘lighter’ wines. It aims to capitalise on the domestic and international market demand for these wines.
The challenge is not just producing high quality lighter wines but producing them naturally, giving New Zealand a point of difference and making New Zealand the “go to” country for high quality, lighter wines.
This programme aims to capitalise on market-led opportunities domestically and internationally, using applied research and development to provide innovative solutions.
The research will focus on natural production using sustainable viticulture techniques and native yeasts unique to New Zealand, giving wineries a point of difference to existing processing methods and other products on the market.
The programme will develop a number of viticulture and winery tools that will enable the industry to service the rapidly growing market for lighter wines with high quality, naturally-produced options.
Strong market opportunities for premium Lighter Wines have been identified from market research completed in target markets and the domestic market.
Sensory profiling of lighter wines has shown it is possible to create wines with similar characteristics of full strength wines. The role of alcohol in the sensory properties of wines is now well understood.
Conceptual framework developed of how consumers respond to non-sensory characteristics of New Zealand Lighter Wines.
Differences in fermentation characteristics of selected yeasts having been observed and investigations are progressing.
Vine canopy trimming has showed the potential to continue flavour development of Sauvignon blanc with reduced sugar levels, lower acid and lower alcohols in the resultant wines.
Three annual workshops and a series of field days for commercial partners (Grantors) have been held and well received.
Marketing workshops held with representatives of the commercial partners (Grantors) to help guide the marketing strategy for the programme.
A number of articles published by New Zealand Winegrower magazine.
A number of medals awarded to Lighter Wines produced by Grantors as part of the 2016 vintage:
13 at the New Zealand International Wineshow
11 at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards
17 in the New World Wine Awards.
Two awards received by Grantors at the New Zealand Food Awards:
VNO Lighter range (Constellation Brands) – Business Innovation Award
Market research and monitoring of export markets continues to show significant and growing consumer demand for lighter wines in a number of markets. Engagement with retailers in the key export markets has supported a doubling in the number of lighter wines listed in export markets. Activity is now underway to promote the category under the NZ Lighter brand.
Programme start: March 2014 Length: 7 years PGP funding: $8.13 million Industry funding: $8.84 million Crown funding paid out to programme for work done to 30 June 2019: $6,860,308 Commercial Partners: NZ Winegrowers and 18 contributing wineries. Estimated potential economic benefits to NZ: The programme aims to deliver economic benefits of $285 million per annum by the end of 2023.