Wine Industry Statistics - Viticulture

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Viticultural Information

Statistics information from The Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Directory
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Vineyard Area

The total area of Australia's vineyards continued to decline in 2014-15. New estimates from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show total vineyard area (including not-yet-bearing areas) decreased by 9% from 148,509 ha in the previous survey in 2011-12 to 135,178 ha in 2014-15 (see table). Vineyard area has now declined by 22% from the record level of 2006-07, and is lower than any time since 1999.

The contraction was evident in all states except Tasmania. New South Wales suffered the biggest decline, reducing by 5,073 ha or 13%, followed by South Australia, where vineyard area decreased by 4,398 ha or 6.2%.

South Australia remained the leading vineyard state, with 66,912 ha. This represented 49.5% of national vineyard area and was almost double the next largest state, New South Wales, with 34,092 ha under vine. Victoria was the third largest state (23,088 ha), followed by Western Australia (9,013 ha). Tasmania defied the national trend to increase its area under vine by 14% to 1,505 ha, and slightly lifted its national share to 1.1%. Big Rivers in New South Wales and Lower Murray of South Australia were the largest Zones (see table).

The national decline in vineyard area was led by white winegrapes, which dropped by 15.1% to 48,530 ha. Red winegrapes decreased by 5.1% to 86,648 ha. As a result, the mix of grape varieties shifted even further towards red winegrapes, which now account for 64.1% of all vineyards, up from 61.5% in 2012.

Vineyard areas for all varieties of white shrunk in 2015 from the previous survey in 2012 (see table). Chardonnay remained the most popular white winegrape, occupying 44.1% of all white vineyards, although it has steadily lost ground in relative terms to other varieties since 2008-09. Semillon and Riesling suffered the biggest decline among whites, with both varieties shrinking by 18.9% to 4,568 and 3,157 ha respectively. Pinot Gris now accounts for a significantly larger area than Riesling, with 3,372 ha, and is set to overtake Semillon if current trends continue. Prosecco was a significant new entry since the last survey, with an estimated 183 ha now planted.

Among red varieties, Shiraz continued its steady decline since 2009, but with 39,893 ha planted, is still easily the most important grape variety in Australia. Shiraz accounts for 46.0% of all red vineyards and almost a third of all vineyards around the country. The second largest red variety, Cabernet Sauvignon, decreased in area by 4.6% to 24,682 ha, while the third largest variety, Merlot, dropped by 8.7% to 8,477 ha. Pinot Noir was almost steady at 4,948 ha.

A number of smaller red varieties went against the national trend and increased in vineyard area, including Durif (up 25.0% to 625 ha) and Ruby Cabernet (up 11.1% to 855 ha). A new entrant in 2012, Nero d'Avola, continued to grow strongly, with planted area more than doubling from 33 to 77 ha.

New Plantings

New plantings of vines increased in 2015 for the first time in at least a decade, up from 940 ha in 2012 to 1,235 ha in 2015 (see table). New plantings were heavily weighted towards red winegrapes, which accounted for 988 ha or 80% of the 2015 total. The national increase was driven by South Australia, where new plantings almost doubled from 435 ha to 825 ha. Activity also lifted in Victoria and Western Australia.

New plantings of red winegrapes were dominated by Shiraz (462 ha) and Cabernet Sauvignon (295 ha) (see table). Among white varieties, Chardonnay accounted for 66 ha or almost 27% of total plantings of 247 ha. Pinot Gris was the second most popular among new white plantings (39 ha), followed by Riesling (33 ha).

Grape Production

Total winegrape production increased by 1.7% in 2015, compared to the previous the ABS report in 2012. South Australia remained the largest producing state by a wide margin, with 739,324 tonnes or 46% of national production (see table). However, South Australia experienced a 3.8% decline in production, while the second-ranked state, New South Wales, lifted output by 7.6% to 495,789 tonnes. Victoria also recorded an increase, with production rising by 15% to 319,471 tonnes. Among the smaller grape production states and territories, the latest survey revealed large gains and losses. Production in Western Australia plunged by 34.8% to 44,334 tonnes, but in Tasmania and the ACT, tonnages jumped by 52.2% and 113.3% respectively. The latest survey showed that production of white and red winegrapes are on diverging paths. Red winegrape production increased by 4.8% to 844,301 tonnes, while white winegrape production decreased by 1.6% to 763,917 tonnes.

Vintage 2015

The following section is adapted from the Winemakers' Federation of Australia 2015 vintage outlook as reported in its 2015 Vintage Report. The 2015 Australian grape crush is estimated at 1.67 million tonnes, an increase of 0.4% from the previous year (see table). The latest figure is just below the eight-year average of 1.70 million tonnes. The slight increase in overall crush was attributable to Riverina's increase in yields, offset by lower yields in Murray Darling and most cooler temperate regions.

The 2015 red crush stands at 835,500 tonnes and the white crush at 834,000 tonnes. Compared to last vintage, the 2015 red crush has decreased by 4% or 30,751 tonnes and the white crush has increased by 5% or 37,524 tonnes.

The top three red varieties by crush were Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, together accounting for 85% of the total red crush. Shiraz continues to dominate with 47% of the total red crush, though with a 6% decrease from last year. Largest decreases were Dolcetto (-50% or -640 tonnes), Lagrein (-35% or -90 tonnes), Ruby Cabernet (-25% or -4,052 tonnes) and Tarrango (-23% or -109 tonnes).

In the whites, Chardonnay still dominates the white crush at 45% - an increase of 28,726 tonnes from last year. Sauvignon Blanc remains in second place with 11%, followed by Pinot Gris & Pinot Grigio accounting for 9% of total white crush. Largest increases are Other white (+85% or +17,731 tonnes), Palomino & Pedro Ximenes (+51% or +91 tonnes), Muscadelle (+41% or +152 tonnes) and Verdelho +29% or +2,308 tonnes). Largest deceases are Muscat a Petit Grains Blanc (-95% or -13,881 tonnes), Viognier (-52% or -7,488 tonnes), Doradillo (-51% or -580 tonnes) and Marsanne (-44% or -1,767 tonnes).

Profitability analysis by WFA revealed worrying trends for the industry, despite a strong lift in exports, the signing of Free Trade Agreements and strengthening consumer demand. The proportion of all production that is unprofitable is estimated to have risen slightly from 84% in 2014 to 85% in 2015, while profitable production (defined as a profit of greater than A$300 per tonne) decreased to only 6%. The WFA believes there is a structural mismatch between supply and demand at profitable price points, and that better informed business decisions are needed.

Vintage 2016 outlook

There are positive indicators for the Australian wine industry with a 5% increase in average winegrape price and an increase in volume and value of wine exports reported for 2015.

Positive developments include the weaker Australian dollar, the Free Trade Agreements with Japan, South Korea and China, a rebound from austerity measures in China, improved economic conditions in the UK and the US, favourable response to Wine Australia promotional activities such as ProWein and the Vancouver International Wine Festival, and the growing positivity towards Australian wine around the world.

The US remains a substantial but largely unrealised opportunity for Australian premium wine. The US is the largest premium wine market in the world and it continues to grow. Australia is seeing some recovery at the premium end of the market but has a significant way to go. Australia's image as a low-cost value producer continues, which is understandable given 95% of Australian exports to the US are below A$5 per litre.

Asia is the stand-out growth region for Australian wine exports. China is our major Asian market and volumes are on the rise after austerity measures caused a slowdown in the imported wine market in the previous 18 months. China remains the number one destination for Australian exports priced at over A$7.50 per litre. Opportunities do exist across the broader Asian market outside China, with different levels of maturity and accessibility across our focus markets of Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. These countries display relatively high wine consumption for Asia and this translates into a greater expertise in wine and potential for genuine appreciation of Australia's wine offer.

The United Kingdom is our biggest export market. For the year ended March 2015, exports to the UK grew by 2% to 251 ML valued at A$371 million. The strongest growth to the UK is coming at above A$10 per litre. The UK can be regarded as a "defend" market for Australia as we have been the number one category in the UK offtrade market for over a decade. Europe accounts for more than half the volume of Australian wine exports and growth to the region has been solid - exports to Europe (excluding UK) grew 10% from 111 ML in 2013-14 to 123 ML in 2014-15. Wine Australia's strategy in Europe is to target key markets where it can deliver an educational message in addition to trade and consumer tastings.

While exports are vital to the future of the Australian wine sector, the domestic market remains the largest for Australian wine, accounting for 40% of sales. However, the volume of Australian sales in the domestic market has been relatively flat over the past four years. The Australian category has faced increasing pressure from imports, particularly from New Zealand but also from France, Italy and Spain. An increase in export performance will help relieve some of the competitive pressure on the domestic market and the lower exchange rate may see a decline in imports.

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