WA vigneron told to look overseas

WA wine growers will have to continue to push their products overseas if they are to remain viable, says the WA president of the Wine Association Denis Horgan.

To meet this aim the WA wine industry has made a submission to the WA government for the support of the industry through an export grant.

“In WA the local industry has put forward a request for support to the tune of $1.8 million over the next three years to develop export markets for WA wine products, which will require exports to be raised by 20 times between now and the crop of 2005 for the crop to be absorbed,” Mr Horgan said.

“The volume of wine which will be produced during that time will have more than doubled during this period.”

According to projections from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, WA grape production is expected to jump to more than 52,000 tonnes in 2001-02 compared with less than 40,000 tonnes in 1999-2000.

From 2000-01 to 2002-03, WA production is forecast to rise 31 per cent – the highest growth in the country. New South Wales production is forecast to increase 10 per cent over the period, Victoria 13 per cent and South Australia 20 per cent.

In 1999, WA had 2,259 hectares under crop; South Australia had more than 12,000 hectares under crop while New South Wales and Victoria had about 6,000 hectares each under production.

Mr Horgan said one of the ways local producers would be able to value add was through wine tourism.

“It’s fair to say that Margaret River is an Australian if not a world leader in wine tourism.

“Those that don’t take the initiative by moving into the export market are likely to face challenges into moving into the domestic market because of the tax impediment (caused by the wine equalisation tax) that WA producers face, and the dominance of the domestic market by four major companies that produce over 82 per cent of domestic wines.

He said it was essential that the quality of the wines were maintained because this was the strength of the WA wine industry.

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