Australian winery numbers down again

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The number of wineries in both Australia and New Zealand continues to fall slightly. After a peak in 2012-13, Australia’s winery numbers have been declining gradually, with a drop of 76 wineries in the past year – despite improved economic conditions. So reports the latest edition of the wine industry bible, The Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Directory. The 35th edition of this massive tome lists 2,394 wine producers, the lowest since 2008. It says the net loss of wineries over the last three years is 179 – or 7% of the industry total.

New Zealand had 537 producers in 2016, down 18 from the previous year.

In Australia, the loss is exclusively in small producers crushing less than 250 tonnes of grapes a year, and because Victoria has the highest concentration of boutiques, it bore the brunt of the loss (25). On the other hand, South Australia had only seven closures.

The directory said the figures showed the wine industry was operating on two speeds: medium and large wineries with significant exposure to surging export markets, or small wineries relying on domestic sales, which continue to be caught by low prices and other pressures. Only 48% of Australian wineries export any wine. Small wineries are also being squeezed by decreasing routes to market, with the ongoing rationalisation in retailing and wholesaling.

The directory also highlighted changes in the way businesses operate: the number of wineries with a cellar door continued to fall, and less than two-thirds of wineries now operate a cellar door, compared to around 80% a decade ago.

“Wine companies now rely heavily on websites and making greater use of social media.”

The number that has a Facebook page is up from 31% to 36% and the number of wineries that use Twitter is up from 18% to 21%.

The directory lists the details of every one of those wineries, as well as information on contract winemakers, grapegrowers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, universities and educational facilities, writers, wine publications, organisations, events, shows and industry personnel.

The Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Directory, published by Winetitles Media, 602 pages, in print or online, $99 at the Winetitles website or 08 8369 9500.

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