Wineries would like fewer grapes

WINERIES would rather take in fewer grapes than will be available in 2001-02 according to a new report by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Data on wineries’ preferred grape intake reflects what wineries would opt to take in to meet projected sales growth, taking into consideration restrictions in the supply of capital equipment and inventory expansion.

Preferred intake is what wineries would like to take in if they were not affected by weather or contract commitments, but does not take into account possible grape supply restrictions or plantings.

Preferred intake is 5 per cent lower than planned intake in 2001-02. Preferred

premium white wine grape intake is 8 per cent lower than planned intake and preferred premium red intake is 7 per cent lower.

Premium red wine production is projected to increase 30 per cent in the 1999-2000 vintage to over 500,000 tonnes.

ABARE’s acting executive director Stephen Beare, when releasing projections of wine grape production and winery intake to 2001-02, said the production of white varieties by comparison was projected to increase just 5 per cent over the three years to 2001-02.

Australian wine grape production is forecast to increase 12 per cent to just over 1.2 million tonnes in the 1999-2000 vintage.

This trend looks set to continue for the next few years, with production forecast to be around 1.4 million tonnes by 2001-02, but it could go as high as 1.6 million tonnes.

South Australia will continue to be the dominant wine grape producing State,

producing over half of the specialist wine grapes during the forecast period.

Wineries are also planning sharp increases in intake over the projection period to process the increase in production and meet increased demand for wine.

The report coincides with a report into the Australian wine and grape industry by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

If nothing else, the ABS report highlights the relative insignificance of the South West wine crop by volume when compared with the total Australian crop – despite a huge influx of new bearing areas.

With 39,000 tonnes being produced, the State will still only produce 3 per cent of the nation’s wine grapes in 2001-02.

Furthermore, the projected increase in production in WA is forecast to increase only 4 per cent in the two years to 2001-02.

Other areas in South Australia and New South Wales will increase their wine crops by up to 33 per cent during the same period.

Australia-wide production is expected to increase 15 per cent leading up to 2001-02.

The attraction of the traditional wine regions of South Australia, NSW and Victoria over WA may be explained by the higher yields in the other States.

New South Wales had an average yield, including both white and red grapes, of 13.5 tonnes per hectare with some areas producing up to 18.3 tonnes per hectare.

In Victoria, the situation is similar with an average yield of 16 tonnes per hectare produced during the 1999 harvest.

South Australia yields averaged 12.4 tonnes per hectare although some regions produced over 20 tonnes per hectare, while WA yields were much lower at only 8.2 tonnes per hectare.

The Shire of Swan on the outskirts of Perth outperformed the Margaret River region in terms of yield with an average yield of 9.4 tonnes – 10.9 tonnes for white grapes and 7.3 tonnes for red varieties.

Margaret River, with a total bearing area of 1,400 hectares yielded 7.7 tonnes per hectare for red grapes and 8.8 tonnes for white grapes.

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