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More Viognier coming on-stream in Australian vineyards

The Australian Viticulture’s March/April issue’s focus on Viognier was the first in a series of reports produced by Australian Viticulture in conjunction with the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (AWBC). Designed to tie in with each Varietal Report, the report’s information is based on the variety’s statistics sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’s Vineyard Survey and the industry’s Regional Winegrape Crush Survey.

By Lawrie Stanford and Lauren Corsey

Viognier plantings in Australia’s vineyards comprise just 0.6% of the nation’s total vineyard area, covering 1026ha of Australia’s 168,792ha under vine in 2006. While small in the scheme of things, Viognier has nevertheless been growing. Between 2001 and 2006, the area of Viognier grew at a compounding rate of about a third each year (albeit off a low base). The total bearing area of Australian grown Viognier in 2006 was 743ha. After starting off a low base, new planting of Viognier has kept up over the years. An average of 130ha planted in 2004 and 2005 roughly matches the average of 126ha planted in 2001 and 2000. Moreover, new plantings yet to come on-stream over the next few years will grow supply in greater volumes than in the past. In 2001, an additional 143ha were expected to come on-stream over subsequent years while from 2006, there is expected to be an additional 283ha coming on-stream.

The additional production will be welcomed, however, with the difference between wine producers’ preferred intake of Viognier fruit in 2006, compared to the actual crush, at 11%. Current supply is nevertheless better meeting demand with the gap between preferred and available less in 2006 than in previous years. The difference between preferred crush and actual crush reached as much as 93% in 2003.

The calculated average purchase value (CAPV) per tonne of fruit in 2006 was A$938, significantly cheaper than the preceding five years where Viognier fetched between $1100 and $1300. Prices for Viognier have tracked the trends for all winegrapes in Australia, bar 2005 which is in line with the lack of available fruit in that year.

The Riverland in South Australia is the largest producer of Viognier across bearing area (10%), plantings (22%) and winegrape production (24%). Other significant regions for Viognier, based on existing bearing areas, include Goulburn Valley, Victoria; Barossa Valley, South Australia; Murray Darling, Victoria and New South Wales; McLaren Vale, South Australia; Adelaide Hills, South Australia; Yarra Valley, Victoria; Langhorne Creek, South Australia; and Riverina, New South Wales. These regions account for nearly 60% of total Viognier-bearing areas in Australia.

Other regions including the Hunter, New South Wales; Margaret River, Western Australia; and Wrattonbully, South Australia also feature in the list of areas with new plantings but are yet to bear significant fruit.

The full article can be found in the March/April 2007 issue of Australian Viticulture.

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