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Montana exports strictly Kiwi

By Graeme Hunt

Friday 15th August 2003

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Montana Wines has no plans to use non-New Zealand wine to fill its export orders, despite local grape shortages.

Communications manager Zirk van den Berg said the company's response to New Zealand's low-volume 2003 vintage was to "limit supply to certain markets."

"If it is exported from New Zealand the vast majority of it will contain New Zealand wine in the bottle," he said.

"In the long run we would be destroying our own future if we allowed the integrity of the brand to be compromised."

Mr van den Berg said Montana sold foreign wine in the local market but the only imported wine under the Montana label was Montana Shiraz, which was from the Barossa Valley, South Australia, and branded accordingly.

Other foreign wine was sold here by Montana under other labels and tended to be in the under-$12 range such as Robard & Butler, Timara and Corbans White Label.

He said Montana's biggest export product, sparkling wine Lindauer, was bottled 18 months after vintage so it would be the end of next year before the company knew if the 2003 vintage had cut volumes.

In an earlier statement Montana said substituting of imported wines for New Zealand wines at the lower end of the domestic market was one of its measures to mitigate the effect of the small vintage.

The company said it was also changing the district of origin for some New Zealand blends, limiting the supply of certain wines and "quite possibly" increasing prices.

"The winemaker's premium wines are set to maintain their established quality standards, with some excellent fruit harvested in all four of New Zealand's top wine regions," the statement said.

"Montana is confident it will be able to maintain supply of all products, with only minor limitations."

Montana national vineyards manager Tony Hoksbergen said in a statement the scale of the 2002 frosts was the worst in his 25 years in the industry.

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