Viticulture

Smallest wine grape crop since 2007

By Jamie Salter

The Australian wine industry has seen its smallest crop since 2007, with the Murray-Darling region performing better than others, according to Wine Australia's National Vintage Report 2020.

The Australian wine grape crush for 2020 was 1.52 million tonnes — the equivalent of more than one billion litres of wine — 13 per cent below the 10-year average of 1.75 million tonnes.

Wine Australia chief executive officer Andreas Clark said while the crop was down, wine quality was expected to be high.

“This vintage will enable us to continue to meet our targets of value growth in premium wine market segments, although the constrained supply will restrict overall volume growth in the next 12 to 24 months,” Mr Clark said.

The total value of the wine grape crush is estimated to be $1.07 billion, with an average value of $694/tonne.

Autumn temperatures were average or slightly cooler, leading to ideal ripening and harvesting conditions.

The ability of Australian grape growers to manage seasonal variations and weather events moderated the impact on the vintage.

The Murray-Darling and other inland regions were less affected due to the availability of supplementary water.

Mr Clark said the wine sector had made significant investments in research and development, leading to improved vineyard management techniques and water use efficiency.

Crop losses due to fire and smoke damage were reported in about one quarter of Australia’s winegrowing regions, however, the overall reduction due to direct damage or smoke effects was estimated to be three per cent of the total crush.

Red varieties had slightly better results than white varieties, being down by 11 per cent compared with 2019, while white varieties were down by 13 per cent.

Australia’s largest variety, Shiraz, decreased by 10 per cent to 376,000 tonnes and increased its share of the total crush to 25 per cent.

The main contributor to the reduction in the white crush was Chardonnay, which was down 19 per cent to 285,000 tonnes.

“The increase in average value for Shiraz is far outpacing that for Chardonnay, leading to strong demand signals favouring Shiraz,” Mr Clark said.

“This is reflected in our exports. The average value of bottled Shiraz exports was $9.21 per litre free on board in 2019, compared with $4.29 for Chardonnay.”