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19/06/2009

Major varieties in decline but 2009 still delivers a bumper crop

The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia today released its report on the 2009 vintage, revealing that Australia’s winegrape crush declined by 7% or about 125,400t this year.

The total intake was 1.71MT, compared with 1.83MT in 2008. This was below the five-year average of 1.79MT but still higher than estimated and greater than required to meet current demand.

Conditions provided for a good vintage in many regions, despite difficulties associated with drought, high temperatures and water shortages.

Red winegrapes recorded a slightly larger decline than white, but still accounted for 52% of total intake. The red intake fell 8% to 888,300t, while white fell 5% to 817,700t.

Since 2001, the red intake has exceeded white in every year except 2007.

Shiraz regained its position as Australia’s most popular variety for the first time since 2006, accounting for 23.6% of total crush, compared with 23.4% for Chardonnay. This was despite the Shiraz intake declining by about 36,400t (8%) to 403,100t.

Cabernet Sauvignon fell marginally to 247,500t, maintaining its position as second most popular red variety (28% of red intake) and third overall (14.5% of total intake).

Merlot also fell only slightly to 126,370t, accounting for 14% of red intake and 7% of total intake.

The Pinot Noir intake fell by 35% to 28,000t, reflecting the challenging heat conditions in some premier Pinot Noir regions. While contributing only 1.6% of the total crush it accounted for 12% of the overall decline in intake for the year.

Other red winegrapes to show significant movement, albeit from a small base, were Tarrango (down 79% to 449t), Barbera (down 76% to 117t), Malbec (down 34% to 1,479t) and Ruby Cabernet (down 22% to 13,243t).

No red varieties showed an increase in intake in 2009 compared with 2008.

While dropping to second behind Shiraz overall, Chardonnay remained the clearly dominant white variety, accounting for 49%. Its 2009 intake was 398,600, a decline of 11%.

Of greater note, however, was the growth of Sauvignon Blanc, which increased 3% to 63,300t (representing 4% of total crush), and the even stronger showing by Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio (up 38% to 40,500t), which moved ahead of Riesling (down 2% to 36,900t). Viognier also showed growth (up 13% to 13,300t).

Semillon remained the second most popular white variety (down 20% to 76,900t), followed by Colombard, which fell only 1% to 63,600t.

Survey methodology

This survey is the first quantitative national measure of the 2009 vintage, and is used widely by industry, industry analysts and media.

In April 2009, wineries were sent an email survey to determine the industry’s 2009 winegrape crush. Wineries were asked to provide details of their intakes for both 2008 and 2009 for processing into wine, brandy, spirit or juice.

Responses were received from more than 340 wineries, covering an estimated 89% of the industry’s winegrape intake. The aggregated data for the 2009 vintage was compared to the aggregated data for the 2008 vintage to obtain the relative change in the size of the intake. This was then compared to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008 intake to estimate the size of the 2009 intake. It should be noted that the intake estimates for each variety in both 2008 and 2009 are derived from each variety’s respective share of the total crush reported by respondents to the 2009 Vintage Survey .

For more information, contact Susan Bell or Stephen Strachan at the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia, telephone +618 8222 9255 or email

The forthcoming July/August 2009 issue of Australian Viticulture magazine will feature coverage of the 2009 vintage from the viewpoint of regions throughout Australia. To subscribe, visit www.winebiz.com.au or telephone +618 8369 9500.

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