New Zealand is set to boost the production of lower calorie and lower alcohol wines to become a world leader in premium lifestyle wines, the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) between the wine industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries announced.

The PGP initiative is said to be the first ever largest R&D project managed by New Zealand’s wine industry.

Of the total NZ$16.97m secured for the initiative, about NZ$8.13m is provided by the Ministry for Primary Industries over the next seven years, and the remainder is offered by industry partners as a combination of cash and in-kind contributions.

Several viticulture and winery tools will be developed by the initiative, in a move to cater to the increasing market for quality, naturally-produced lower calorie and lower alcohol wines.

Commenting on the initiative, New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan said that this programme will capitalise on the domestic and international market demand for high quality, lower calorie and lower alcohol Lifestyle wines by developing new, natural techniques for grapevine growth and wine production utilised across the New Zealand Wine Industry.

"Our point of difference will be producing premium wines that can be naturally produced using sustainable viticultural techniques and native yeasts – providing an important point of difference to existing processing methods.

"The programme will produce tangible outcomes for the grape and wine industry and the economy as a whole," added Gregan.