1996 has been a landmark year for the Australian wine industry with a record crush of 885,000 tonnes. Pleasingly, not only is quantity up after the disappointing 1995 harvest but quality is looking to be quite good. Most areas reported very good to excellent fruit quality and the wines are showing early promise. Not all districts have had a great year, but it has mainly been smaller districts that have been adversely affected by weather. The ‘engine-room’ districts have generally been favoured this year.
The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) announced an all-time record crush for the 1996 vintage of 885,000 tonnes of which 496,000 tonnes is premium varietal grapes, with Chardonnay alone accounting for 107,000 tonnes. The previous record vintage was 777,000 tonnes in 1994.
South Australia has estimated a total crush of 425,000 tonnes, or roughly half of the national figure. This will produce around 320 million litres, 20% higher than the previous record in 1994. The Barossa Valley, in particular, has had an exceptional harvest.
The size of the harvest has kept many wineries working at full capacity, and is stretching the ability of the supply industries to keep pace with demand.