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Wine Australia - quality; diversity; sustainability

The Australian wine sector has set itself the goal to improve quality and long-term sustainability following the prediction of a lower than average harvest.

The annual supply and demand assessment delivered at the Wine Industry Outlook Conference by Lawrie Stanford, manager information and analysis, Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, predicted the 2008 harvest will be 1.22 million tonnes, down from the current estimate of last year’s harvest at 1.47 million tonnes. These figures reflect the impact that the current drought conditions are having on Australia's vineyards however winemakers remain optimistic. Prices are expected to increase for wine grapes and a positive shift towards long term sustainability is a must.

"The opportunity out of the predicted harvest is for the Australian wine sector to shift its focus from volume to value," Sam Tolley Chief Executive of the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation said.

"It is incumbent on us, as an industry, to use this period as a strategic stepping stone; the currency of our success must be measured by value and not volume alone. Increasing our average dollar per litre price is ambitious however there are compelling reasons for people to choose Australian wine. Our challenge will remain telling our story with alacrity and passion.

"As an industry we are open to discussing the challenges we face and communicating what the issues are. Two successive drought-affected seasons, and the likelihood of a further reduced 2009 vintage will constrain the wine that is available for export.

"Under significant supply constraints, it will always be an individual company's choice as to which markets and indeed which customers they choose to prioritise. However, we also have a collective duty to provide clear direction for the industry; that is ensuring that demand remains strong even in times of constraint and if there is to be an according rise in price it still needs to be justified. We believe the sensible justification for an increase in our value performance is an according ability to demonstrate a continuing evolution in quality and raise awareness and recognition of Australia's regionally distinct wines," Tolley said.



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