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2000 Vintage Report

Information from the 2000 Winemakers Federation of Australia Vintage Report

Vintage reaches 1.1 million again
For the second consecutive year Australian winegrape production surpassed 1 million tonnes. Total production from the 2000 vintage is estimated at 1,147,000 tonnes, an increase of more than 20,000 tonnes (or 1.9%) on the 1999 vintage (See table below).

Specialist red winegrape production increased by 72,000 tonnes to 542,000 tonnes, representing 47% of the total production.

Specialist white winegrapes (i.e. excluding the multipurpose varieties of Sultana, Muscat Gordo Blanco and Waltham Cross) decreased by 31,000 tonnes to 445,000 tonnes (or 39% of the total production). Production of multipurpose grapes was down by 20,000 tonnes (-11%) on the 1999 vintage. Overall, multipurpose grapes declined from 16% of the total production to 14%.

Cabernet Sauvignon up
Production of the top two specialist red grape varietals -- Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon -- increased by 8% and 23% respectively from the 1999 vintage. Cabernet Sauvignon production increased by over 30,000 tonnes to 170,000 tonnes or 15% of total production.

Shiraz surpassed 200,000 tonnes for the second consecutive year with an increase of 16,000 tonnes, taking it to 19% of production. Assuming normal conditions next year, Shiraz is set to surpass Chardonnay as Australia's highest tonnage grape variety.

Merlot continued its record growth, increasing by 66% to 55,000 tonnes, taking it to fifth largest of the specialist grape varieties. Interestingly, Pinot Noir declined for the second successive year, recording a decline of 9% or 1,000 tonnes. Rain and/or frosts in Victoria and South Australia contributed to this decline, with Pinot Noir especially vulnerable as an early shooting variety.

The results of production of specialist white grapes reflect the trend away from white winegrape plantings, and the generally lower yields of the 2000 vintage. Chardonnay posted a decrease of 18,000 tonnes compared with 1999. It now represents 20% of the total grape production, as opposed to 22% of total production in 1999.

Semillon was down 8% or 6,000 tonnes compared with 1999. Riesling also declined, from 31,000 tonnes to 24,000 tonnes, decreasing its percentage of total production to 2%. Another key variety, Sauvignon Blanc, recorded an 11% decline, falling below 20,000 tonnes. The production of Marsanne increased by 22% to 2,000 tonnes and Verdelho increased by 10% to 9,000 tonnes.

Multipurpose grapes declining
Total production of multipurpose grape varieties declined by 11% to 160,000 tonnes. In addition, their overall share of the production declined from 16% in 1999 to 14%, in keeping with a medium term trend.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Chardonnay have virtually doubled their overall share, with Cabernet Sauvignon increasing from 7% in the 1994 vintage to 15% this year, Shiraz increasing its contribution from 10% to 19% and Chardonnay increasing from 10% to 20%.

Yields below expectations
The difficult seasonal conditions in all but a few areas contributed to the lower than projected production. Under normal seasonal conditions, the industry would have anticipated a vintage of 1,298,000* tonnes, comprising:

  • 610,000 tonnes of specialist red grapes
  • 493,000 tonnes of specialist white grapes
  • 195,000 tonnes of multipurpose grapes

*Source: National Winegrape Outlook Conference, Mildura, 18 November 1999.

Yields were therefore down approximately 11% for specialist red grapes and 10% for specialist white grapes. Multipurpose grape production for 2000 also declined, reflecting lower Sultana yields.

For most varieties, yields were below early season expectations. For the key varieties, the results were:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon was 20,000 tonnes below projected
  • Shiraz was 40,000 tonnes below projected
  • Merlot was 4,000 above projected
  • Chardonnay was 4,000 above projected*
  • Semillon was 12,000 tonnes below projected
  • Riesling was 12,000 tonnes below projected

*Chardonnay projections have already been revised down due to specific regional and seasonal conditions.

Projected production to 2002
The projected production for 2001 and 2002 is 1,426,000 tonnes and 1,518,000 tonnes respectively. These results indicate that, assuming normal seasonal conditions, there will be a 24% increase in production in 2001 and a further 6% increase in production in 2002.

Specialist red winegrapes are estimated to increase by 35% in 2001, and a further 11% in 2002. By 2002, specialist red winegrapes are projected to reach 811,000 tonnes or 53% of the total production. To put this result into perspective, the industry will have more specialist red grapes produced in 2002 than total grapes produced in any year before 1996.

Production of specialist white grapes are estimated to increase by 14% to 506,000 tonnes in 2001, and increase by 3% to 523,000 tonnes in 2002. In 2002 specialist white grapes are projected to be 34% of total production, reflecting the much lower incidence of plantings of specialist white grapes over recent years.

Multipurpose grapes are estimated to increase by 19% in 2001, and decrease by 3% in 2002. By 2002 the production of multipurpose grapes is projected to be 12% of total production.

From vintage 2000 to vintage 2002, the projected production changes for some of the specialist grape varieties are:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon to increase by 47% to 250,000 tonnes
  • Shiraz to increase by 56% to 345,000 tonnes
  • Merlot to increase by 56% to 85,000 tonnes
  • Chardonnay to increase by 2% to 230,000 tonnes
  • Semillon to increase by 23% to 89,000 tonnes
  • Riesling to increase by 9% to 36,000 tonnes

Survey methodology
In May 2000, wineries were sent a mail survey to determine the industry intake for 2000. Wineries were asked to provide details of their 2000 winegrape intake from any source for processing into wine, brandy, spirit or juice. The survey was conducted by an independent consultant, KPMG, and covered an estimated 87% of industry production. This data was aggregated and the collected aggregated data was used to estimate 100% of industry production.

Information from Lawrie Stanford, Wine Industry Analyst, Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation
A significant positive from the 2000 harvest will be increased availability of red winegrapes. Due to the combined effect of a greater increase in new red bearing areas over new white bearing areas and the emerging pattern of a greater decline in white winegrape yields compared to red, red winegrape production is set to increase over 1999 levels and to increase as a proportion of the total harvest at the expense of white winegrapes.

Factors influencing poorer yield performances in whites compared to reds include the higher proportion of new vines among red plantings (where young vines have weathered the season more satisfactorily than old), difficulties with the Sultana harvest after a dramatic rain episode in late February and the downgrading effect on yields of grapevine yellows (affecting in particular Sunraysia Chardonnay).

Vintage bright spots occurred at the geographical extremes of the major Australian winegrape-growing districts -- in Western Australia and the Hunter Valley. In these locations, local winemakers are enthusiastic about winegrape quality -- both red and white. In WA, good earlier rains set the season up well and although a low rainfall period followed in November-December, unseasonably high rainfall in January was largely beneficial in boosting yields, with only marginal disease incidence. In the Hunter, in contrast to many other parts of Australia, an unseasonally dry January-February (mean rainfall in these months averaged around 60% less than the long-term mean) spared this district from the harvest-time wet weather it sometimes experiences. Together with this happy situation, a hot burst late in January finished off the harvest well.

In general terms, across the remainder of Australia, the season was difficult. Major contributors to lower-than-expected production in 2000 have been the warm-climate regions and several premium South Australian regions, particularly the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. A poor fruit-set widely characterised the 2000 season and constrained production potential. Two likely causes exist for the poor set. Smaller bunch numbers are likely to have had their origin in constrained primordial bud formation resulting from the weather conditions existing just prior to the previous harvest and difficult conditions during the fruitset leading up to the current harvest. The latter mentioned conditions were higher rainfall and lower temperatures.

In most areas of Australia, a dry January 2000 contrasted with the wet November-December 1999 and together with some high January temperatures, an earlier 2000 vintage (by about 2 to 3 weeks) resulted. The dry, hot January-early February resulted in small berries -- also contributing to lower yields -- although the compensating intensity of flavour has been evident. A heavy rain episode in late February interrupted the progress of the harvest in many areas. Splitting was widely reported, but in most areas clearing weather after the rain episode meant the incidence of disease was minimised. The exception to this appears to be the Riverina where continued rain had a disease impact.

Australian winegrape intake

1997
1998
1999
2000
Change
tonnes
tonnes
tonnes
tonnes
%
Cabernet Franc
4,000
4,821
4,413
3,577
-19
Cabernet Sauvignon
67,200
97,939
137,863
169,669
23
Grenache n/a
22,151
22,998
20,392
-11
Malbec
2,600
3,491
2,275
2,567
13
Merlot
8,600
14,717
32,957
54,617
66
Pinot Noir
14,600
19,936
17,643
16,152
-9
Ruby Cabernet
12,600
15,282
21,175
28,390
34
Mataro n/a
8,130
8,413
8,484
1
Shiraz
100,900
147,859
205,315
220,907
8
Other red
22,278
8,262
10,591
-20
Total red grapes
356,604
469,643
542,064
15
Chardonnay
133,100
171,353
242,424
224,546
-7
Chenin Blanc
14,600
18,046
20,732
17,368
-16
Colombard
33,000
34,753
35,206
40,449
15
Crouchen
2,365
2,276
2,441
7
Doradillo
10,211
6,030
5,655
-6
Marsanne
1,824
1,666
2,023
22
Muscadelle
2,500
2,563
2,832
1,646
-42
Muscat Blanc
4,051
1,580
1,033
-35
Palomino/Pedro Ximines
6,748
3,707
2,843
-23
Riesling
33,500
35,201
30,635
23,789
-22
Sauvignon Blanc
13,300
120,317
21,950
19,559
-11
Semillon
51,200
66,223
78,589
72,108
-8
Traminer
5,700
6,542
4,409
2,945
-33
Trebbiano
12,303
7,910
7,613
-4
Verdelho
3,000
4,938
8,161
8,985
10
Other white
10,967
8,088
12,248
5
Subtotal white
289,900
408,406
476,194
445,251
-7
Sultana
115,300
137,016
118,927
97,656
-18
Muscat Gordo Blanco
79,900
73,646
59,580
61452
3
Waltham Cross
1,497
595
-60
Subtotal multipurpose
210,664
180,003
159,703
-11
Total white grapes
619,070
656,197
604,954
-7
Total grapes
798,000
975,674
1,125,840
1,147,018
2

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