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Australian wine grape crush defies early predictions

Published:  19 July, 2019

The National Vintage Report 2019 for Australia has revealed a 1% decrease in the national wine grape crush to an estimated 1.73 million tonnes (Mt).

Wine Australia, which released the research, said the figure was well above early predictions, which suggested that the harvest would be 10–20% down on the 2018 vintage.

Andreas Clark, Wine Australia’s CEO confirmed that many regions had suffered significant losses, including the Barossa, Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley, which were the worst affected in tonnage terms.

However, he added the reduced yields were generally not as low as originally feared and balanced by higher grape prices with the average value of wine grapes reaching A$664 per tonne, up by more than A$50 per tonne (9%) on the 2018 average value of A$611 per tonne.

“This is a good-sized crop that will ensure Australia can continue to supply its export and domestic markets comfortably”, Clark said.

“It further reinforces Australian winegrowers’ ability to deliver consistent winegrape harvests and mitigate the effects of difficult weather conditions such as those widely reported during the 2019 season.”

The report was based on a survey of more than 570 winemaking businesses estimated to account for 88 per cent of all wine grapes crushed in 2019.

It revealed the total farmgate value of Australian wine grapes was estimated to be A$1.17bn ($822m) this year - an increase of 6% despite the reduction in tonnage.

The research also showed the average export value increased by 9% in the year ended March 2019 to its highest level since 2009.

“Growth in export value underpins the continuing success of the Australian wine sector, with exports accounting for 63% of wine production’, Clark added.

“It is pleasing to see the value growth in Australian wine in export markets translating to increased premiums paid for Australian wine grapes.”

The red grape crush was up by 16,224 tonnes (2%) compared with 2018, while white was down 66,949 tonnes (8%).

Prosecco leapt 42% to 9,936 tonnes.

It has increased its crush volume by an average of nearly 50% cent each year since 2015, mirroring similar sales growth in the domestic wine market, and it is now the tenth largest white variety by production volume, according to the report.

Chardonnay was down by 47,975 tonnes (12 %) to 356,250 tonnes – its lowest crush in the past five years.

At 418,364 tonnes, Shiraz remained dominant accounting for 44% of the red crush and 24% of the total crush, despite dropping by 2% on last year.

The variety, which accounts for 29% of exported Australian wine, grew exports by 5% in volume in 2018.