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Montana buys more land

By Chris Hutching

Friday 4th July 2003

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Montana Group is continuing to buy grape-growing properties in Hawke's Bay and Marlborough as wine producers reel from the effects of spring frosts on this year's vintage ­ estimated to be down 35% on last year's.

In Marlborough the company has bought part of the property beside the former PPCS meat works, near Blenheim.

It paid $1.33 million for 39ha, on which it plans to plant pinot noir grapes on the 28 plantable hectares.

The former PPCS meat plant was bought by Blenheim Developments last year and has been subdivided. Real estate agent John Hoare said investment interest in grape-growing properties remained strong, with new marketing proposals being investigated.

In Hawke's Bay, Montana is spending $4.2 million on 214ha at Matapiro Rd, Crownthorpe, and plans to plant 170ha in sauvignon blanc, pinot noir and pinot gris.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Winegrowers' chief executive Philip Gregan said the average national yield of 4.9 tonnes per hectare was well below long-term averages, and reflected the cool 2002 spring.

But he also noted that some areas escaped relatively unscathed, such as Central Otago, and supplies of some varieties would be higher as a result.

Mr Gregan emphasised that the reduced yield was unlikely to affect the vintage quality because the 2003 ripening months were normal, although it was too soon to make definitive statements.

Nelson and Central Otago were the only regions to benefit from a larger harvest, up 76% and 20% respectively (last year they experienced falls in production).

Marlborough was down 26%, Canterbury 28%, Hawke's Bay 58%, Auckland 53%, Wellington 35%, Gisborne 46%, Waikato 47% and Northland 2%.

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