Australian grape crush increases again

Grape harvesting machinery in operation in the Eden Valley. (Photo: CSIRO)

Australia’s grape crush in the recent 2017 vintage increased – for the third successive year. The good news is that the amount of increase seems in line with the increase in sales (largely exports), which is around 65 million litres. The wine industry seems to be in some sort of balance for once.

The national vintage report released by Wine Australia and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia says the grape intake increased by 5% over 2016 to 1.93 million tonnes.

More good news is that grape-growers received better prices for their fruit. The average grape purchase price rose by 7% to AUD $565 a tonne, the highest since 2008.

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said:

“The increases reflect excellent seasonal conditions in many regions as well as the growing demand for Australian wine, both in export and domestic markets.”

“Pleasingly, the figures … indicate that the supply and demand for Australian wine is in balance. An additional 93,000 tonnes were crushed this year, which produces approximately an additional 65 million litres of wine. This is in line with increased demand for Australian wine: in 2016–17, exports increased by 50 million litres, and domestic sales increased by 12 million litres in 2015–16, a total of 62 million litres.”

Most regions recorded an increase in tonnes crushed.

The top 10 wine grape varieties did not change, but muscat gordo blanco replaced semillon in seventh spot – no doubt reflecting the booming demand for Moscato wines. The top 10 are (in order)

  • Shiraz
  • Chardonnay
  • Cabernet sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Sauvignon blanc
  • Pinot Gris/grigio
  • Muscat gordo blanco
  • Semillon
  • Colombard
  • Pinot noir

Of the alternative varieties, production increased significantly for dolcetto, pinot meunier, montepulciano, tarrango and fiano.

I write this from the Yarra Valley, where winemakers are universally excited about the quality of the 2017 wines in their tanks. It was a good vintage for all varieties, a godsend after the very hot and very early, compressed 2016 vintage.

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