The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Marlborough land grab leading to record prices

With vineyards in New Zealand’s Marlborough area almost ‘sold out’, a land grab has commenced pushing prices and farming practices to extremes.

Speaking recently with The Shout NZ at ProWein in Dusseldorf, Mark Shaw – family member of Saint Clair Family Estate – said that the older wineries have benefited from getting in early as land becomes scarce.

“The Marlborough is pretty full now – and we are fortunate that we have been around for 40 years. There is a bit of land grab going on at the moment, prices that we are seeing are pretty crazy and I believe last week a vineyard on Selmes Road in the Marlborough went for $NZ330,000 a hectare – it is crazy money which is probably a record,” he says. “We probably wouldn’t have paid that much for land up there, but prices where we are down at Dylan’s Point will probably hit that as well. It is clear that the Marlborough wine industry is going from strength to strength,” he said.

Jo Pearson from Sacred Hill Vineyards said there is still growth expected in the short term before serious land shortages begin to take effect and farming practices, such as the narrowing of vineyards, will need to be considered.

“Marlborough is almost planted out but there are still areas that are coming on steam in the next two to three years,” she says. “As a result, we will see continual growth. It is a pretty significant investment if you are going to replant a 2.4m wide Sauvignon Blanc vineyard to 2m to get higher density planting,” she said.

Peter Yealands has provided a five-year plan for the future of vineyards in the Marlborough.

“It will be business as usual for the next five years, but after that I suspect there is not going to be any typical vineyard land left in Marlborough. I think then there may be a little pause of a couple of years before we start tackling the true hills, and not just the rolling country, and putting in major terracing,” he says.

“It is going to be hard work as a lot of the hill country in Marlborough is Loess which is a silica and mica type of material and it is quite soluble and hard to hold together. But knowing the Kiwi attitude – we will make it work.

“Pricing for land is now over $300,000 a hectare which is the sort of value we were seeing pre-GFC. I am hoping that things will slow down a wee bit as we want steady constant growth, not sporadic growth with a bit rush and then a lull. But the market is what it is – and at the end of the day when it comes to selling wine or selling land or developing vineyards you just go with the flow.”