The national winegrape crush has shot up in value to $1.22 billion after growers picked their third consecutive vintage of increased volumes in autumn, cashing in on handy price rises, too.
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After a decade of lean returns for many producers, average values lifted seven per cent to $565 a tonne for the 2017 vintage – the best result since 2008.
Last year’s total vintage was worth $1.08b.
The 2017 crush is estimated at 1.93 million tonnes according to the latest national vintage report from industry groups, Australian Vignerons, Wine Australia and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia.
Red grape varieties have expanded their share of the crush to 55pc, up from 52pc in 2016, offsetting a slight overall 2pc decline in white varieties crushed.
“A cautious optimism is being echoed across the Australian wine sector,” said Winemakers’ Federation of Australia chief executive officer, Tony Battaglene.
“Export value overall has been on the rise and it is great to see consecutive increases in exports matched by increases in key vintage figures.”
Pleasingly, the figures indicate supply and demand for Australian wine is in balance- Andreas Clark, Wine Australia.
Much of that export growth comes from surging sales to the thirsty Chinese market, which now contributes about 40pc of our overseas wine earnings ahead of the US and our biggest wine volume market, the UK.
This season’s production and payment rises reflected excellent seasonal conditions in many regions last spring and summer, as well as improved demand for Australian wine in all markets, said Wine Australia CEO, Andreas Clark.
“Pleasingly, the figures from the vintage report indicate supply and demand for Australian wine is in balance,” he said.
An additional 93,000t were crushed this year, which will see about 65m litres of extra wine eventually flowing into the market.
Sales of Australian wine to export markets grew 50m litres in 2015-16, while domestic sales increased 12m litres.
Australian Vignerons chief executive officer, Andrew Weeks, said the third consecutive rise in the average purchase price of winegrapes was a positive development for Australian growers.
The top 10 Australian winegrape varieties produced this season in order of production volume were Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Muscat Gordo Blanco, Semillon, Colombard, and Pinot Noir.
Muscat Gordo Blanco has replaced Semillon in seventh spot.
Of the alternative varieties, production increased significantly for Dolcetto, Pinot Meunier, Montepulciano, Tarrango and Fiano.
Growth in the national crush was spread relatively equally between cool or temperate and warmer inland wine regions.
The crush from cool/temperate regions such as the NSW tablelands, West Australia’s Margaret River and South Australia’s Barossa Valley increased 9pc to 610,000 tonnes, accounting for 31pc of the national total.
Warmer inland regions such as NSW’s Riverina, the Murray-Darling, northern Victoria and South Australian Riverland increased 3pc to 1.32 million tonnes, contributing 69pc to the crush.
Average prices increased for all but two of the top 10 varieties.
There was also an increase in the proportion of premium A and B grades purchased ($1500/t and above) from 6.4pc to 7.4pc this vintage.
More than 35,000 transactions were collected for vintage analysis in the report.
Average red winegrape values increased 6pc from $651/t to $691/t, and the average price of white winegrapes also rose 6pc from $398/t to $420/t.
This season average overall price of $565/t is almost nearly $90 above the average of the previous five years, $477/t.
Shiraz was the biggest driver in the overall increase in the average purchase price as the share of Shiraz purchased at A and B grades increased from 13.3pc in 2016 to 15.5pc – double the proportion it achieved five years ago.
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