Wine Importing and Marketing Services

‘This Problem Will Only Get Worse’: Wine Regions Grapple with Labor Market, Supply Chain

Vineyard worker picks grapes in Marlborough, New Zealand / Getty

In addition to ongoing supply chain tensions, the global wine industry now faces seasonal labor shortages with higher wages. Tensions are especially high in regions that rely on international workforces, some of whom are unable to travel due to pandemic-related restrictions.

From January 2021 onwards until now, rates for contracted seasonal workers in New Zealand increased by 22% per vine, including Managed In Quarantine (MIQ) costs associated with the risk that activities like pruning may not be done in time.

“Each year, the wine industry draws on a substantial seasonal workforce to supplement our permanent workforce, and these skilled seasonal workers play a vital role in enabling the industry to meet the critical seasonal work peaks,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers, the national organization for New Zealand’s grape and wine industry.

“The government announcement that RSE [Recognized Seasonal Employer] workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu can travel to New Zealand quarantine-free has provided some assurance for the industry to meet the coming seasonal tasks.”