Our goal: Be a world leader in efficient water use.

New Zealand is famously water-rich with over 50 major rivers, 770 lakes, and abundant rainfall.

Water is of critical importance to New Zealand’s wine industry for vine irrigation, frost protection and winemaking activities. It is vital that our wine businesses minimise water use and protected the purity of waterways to ensure our supply remains clean and sustainable in the future.

New Zealand Wine activities support the industry to:

  • Ensure water efficiency across operations
  • Strive to improve downstream water quality
  • Invest in the restoration of water ecosystems to ensure sustainable water withdrawals
  • Eliminate the use of chemicals and materials that can be detrimental to water quality if improperly disposed

99% of SWNZ vineyards and wineries optimise the performance of water systems through scheduled monitoring and maintenance to ensure efficiency.

Based on 1349 vineyards and 160 wineries, 2019


River at Aronui Wines
Aronui Wines

What we're doing

Many vineyard operations demand a careful balancing act between minimising water use and providing enough irrigation to assure fruit quality. Viticulturalists are expected to monitor rainfall, evaporation and transpiration and soil moisture.

Drip and scheduled irrigation systems have been mainstays of our industry. As well as saving water, they prevent the problems that excess soil water can cause, such as an increase in disease, reduction in fruit quality, and leaching or surface runoff, which degrades ground water. Vineyard operators also regularly optimise the performance of their water delivery systems (i.e., use soil moisture probes) to ensure water conservation and efficiency.

In the winery, where the demand for water is mostly for processing and cleaning, we encourage efficient cleaning and production processes and sound management of waste and wastewater disposal systems, to avoid contamination of water sources.

Hot water used to sterilise during bottling can be reused for other cleaning activities, recycled through multiple washes if possible. This saves energy and reduces water usage and decreases the amount of wastewater a winery needs to treat before discharging.

Members are encouraged to minimise water use by using low volume/high pressure nozzles, that are attached to the end of the hoses rather than the tap (saving time when closing off water flow).

They are also encouraged to have a maintenance programme to ensure leaks are fixed quickly, remove solid waste by rinsing equipment before cleaning and pre-treat wastewater in the winery by settling out solids before it is distributed on the land.

Sustainability in action

Look at some at what our grape growers and wineries are doing below to reach our goal:

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