In 2008, some pioneering New Zealand wineries including Wither Hills identified the opportunity to create premium wines with lower alcohol levels in the styles that had been successful for New Zealand in many export markets.  These companies quickly learnt that there were many challenges to this initiative, and to be successful required new grape growing and winemaking approaches.  This formed the framework for a $17-million R&D programme in 2014 with the goal to achieve global leadership in the production and supply of premium quality, naturally lighter-in-alcohol wines.

With contributions from industry levies and direct investment by 18 participating New Zealand wine companies, the programme focused on all aspects of lighter-in-alcohol wines, covering everything from sustainable vineyard and winemaking practices, to sensory assessment, to market access.

Now we aim to deliver a forward-looking premium and sustainable product that supports drinking more responsibly and moderately as part of a healthier and more mindful lifestyle.

The 18 New Zealand wine companies participating in this innovative initiative with Wither Hills are:

 Accolade Wines, Allan Scott Wines, Constellation Brands, Forrest Estate, Giesen Wine Estate, Indevin, Kono, Lawson’s Dry Hills, Marisco Vineyards, Mount Riley Wines, Mt Difficulty Wines, Pernod Ricard, Runner Duck Estate, Spy Valley Estate, Villa Maria, Whitehaven Wine Company, and Yealands Family Wines.