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Oz Vintage 2023 estimated to be “smallest in a generation”

Published:  11 July, 2023

According to the results of Wine Australia’s National Vintage Survey, the 2023 Australian winegrape crush was the lowest reported since 2000, a 24% decrease on the 2022 crush of 1.73m tonnes and 26% below the 10-year average of 1.78m tonnes.

This equates to a reduction of 465,000 tonnes compared with an average vintage, or approximately 325m litres of wine. The 2023 crush is expected to result in below-average annual sales, however, the small vintage will positively impact inventory levels, which were above the long-term average in 2022.

The reduced yields have been attributed to, amongst other things, a third consecutive La Niña event, a cool recurring climate pattern across the Pacific, causing Australia’s wettest year since 2011 and its coldest since 2012.

Persistent winter and spring rainfall across much of South-Eastern Australia also made access to vineyards difficult as well as causing flooding in some regions.

Despite the difficult conditions, the low yields and cool conditions were conducive to producing high-quality fruit with excellent flavour development according to Wine Australia.

The total crush estimate for 2023 is estimated to be 1.32m tonnes. South Australia accounted for the largest share of the crush (55%), with an estimated 730,019 tonnes. The crush was very similar to its 2020 size and the equal smallest since 2007, at 17% below its 10-year average of 877,202 tonnes. 

New South Wales was the second largest contributor with an estimated 355,083 tonnes (27% of the total). Its crush decreased by 28% compared with 2022 and was 36% below its 10-year average (2013–2022) of 553,945 tonnes. 

Victoria crushed an estimated 173,959 tonnes and decreased by 40% year-on-year, reducing its share of the national crush from 17% in 2022 to 13%. It was also 43% below its 10-year average of 303,663 tonnes.

The estimated crush from Western Australia was very similar to the 2022 figure at 45,710 tonnes, 24% above its 10-year average of 36,892 tonnes.

The crush of red grapes in 2023 is estimated to be 711,777 tonnes – a decrease of 247,120 tonnes (26%) compared with 2022, and 25% below the 10-year average of 943,146 tonnes.  

The white crush was an estimated 605,321 tonnes – a decrease of 169,601 tonnes (22%) compared with 2022 and 28% below its 10-year average of 839,013 tonnes. 

As for individual varieties, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc increased their share of the total crush, while Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot lost their share. Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc both moved up one place, with Sauvignon Blanc now the fourth-largest variety, displacing Merlot. The only change in the top 10 whites was that Prosecco overtook Muscat à Petits Grains Blancs, which declined by 44% compared with the overall average decline of 22% for white varieties.

The total estimated value of the 2023 grapecrush is AU$983 million, a decrease of AU$229 million (19%) compared with 2022. The average winegrape purchase price increased by 2% to AU$642 per tonne as a result of increases in the average value of red and white grapes from cool-temperate regions, together with the increased share of grapes from these regions in the overall mix, countering the reduction in the average value of grapes from the warm inland regions.

The National Vintage Survey is a single annual crush and price survey conducted by Wine Australia on behalf of the Australian wine sector and all Wine Australia levy payers (approximately 2200 businesses) are surveyed.