Viticultural Information

Statistics information from The Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Directory
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Vintage 2022

The Australian winegrape crush is estimated to be 1.73 million tonnes (Table 1) in 2022. The crush processed from 2022 was 14% lower than the record crush of 2.01 million tonnes recorded in 2021 and 2% below the 10-year average of 1.78 million tonnes (Wine Australia). The estimated average yield was approximately 12 tonnes per hectare (Table 2), which is slightly lower than the 10-year average of 12.55 tonnes per hectare.

The lower yield in general was expected due to reduced cropping potential after the record high vintage in 2021. In addition, the natural variation was also compounded by widespread spring and summer rainfall across much of the eastern states and several significant hailstorms, particularly in the Barossa and the Riverland. Moreover, wineries also hit tank capacity following the fruitful 2021 vintage and had significant stock holding due to reduced exports to China and severe shipping challenges resulting from delays and escalated costs.

Despite the challenges in 2022, Wine Australia was unable to definitively attribute the normal seasonal fluctuations in yield from active strategies to reduce winegrape intake due to market conditions. The volatility within the industry is reflected in the reduction of winegrape prices where growers were receiving $630 per tonne on average compared to $701 per tonne in 2021 (Table 3).

For the year 2022, all the most commonly-crushed red varieties suffered a downturn, with the exception of Durif, to reach an estimated 959,131 tonnes, a drop of 17% in the intake compared to the previous 12 months (Table 3). The lower red grape crush however is still 4% above the 10-year average, consistent with the general upward trend for the past 10 years (Wine Australia).

Shiraz remained the most in demand variety with 433,305 tonnes processed (down 20%) with an average value of $713 per tonne (Table 1). Producers crushed 246,723 tonnes (down 19%) of Cabernet Sauvignon, receiving an average of $685 per tonne around the country (Table 3). There was an overall reduction of 17% in red cropping with the average red grape price remaining stable at $1042 per tonne (down 4%).

The white varietal crush declined by 9% for an estimated total of 775,129 tonnes in 2022. The reduction in tonnage resulted in a negligible 2% increase in price with growers receiving on average $693 per tonne (Table 3). The white crush was approximately 45% of the total crush in 2022 which is lower than the 10-year average of 48% (Wine Australia). This trend is likely to continue, reflecting the increasing
preference for red varieties amongst growers in the last decade.

Chardonnay remained the most popular white variety with 358,007 tonnes crushed in 2022 for an average of $517 per tonne (Table 3). Despite the smaller intake of white grapes, the wider shrinkage of white varieties across the industry aided in stabilising the average price with most white varieties receiving a slight increase in average tonnage price for the year, providing comforting relief to growers with a smaller crush.

South Australia was the largest contributor to the national crush in 2022 with 889,254 tonnes, contributing to just over half (51%) (Table 4). Despite hailstorms in the Riverland (October 2021, January 2022), the region provided 559,217 tonnes (down 10%) towards the national crush (Table 4). The other regions within the state also contributed approximately 15% on average less towards the national wine crush in 2022.

Despite a smaller crush for the year, the Murray Darling–Swan Hill region remained significant in the industry with 360,713 tonnes processed, providing 21% of the national crush (Table 4). In NSW, the Riverina region remained the state’s primary producer with 322,931 tonnes, representing 91% of the contribution. The Gundagai region continues to prosper, increasing its crush in 2022 by 162% to 5694 tonnes (Table 4). By contrast, the Cowra region was decimated by flooding from the Lachlan River in October/November, recording 183 tonnes, a loss of 93% of its crop compared to the previous 12 months (Table 4).

In Victoria, excluding the Murray Darling and Swan Hill regions, the state processed 71,671 tonnes of fruit, representing 4% of the national crush (Table 4). Heathcote, Rutherglen and Alpine Valleys saw increases in tonnages whilst the King Valley, Goulburn Valley, Yarra Valley, Grampians and the Strathbogie Ranges recorded a decrease in crush. Western Australia was the only major state that saw an increase in overall crush, posting a 3% growth with 45,546 tonnes processed within the state (Table 4). The Margaret River region’s crush surged 8% with 29,406 tonnes of fruit contributing 2% of the national crush. Both Tasmania and Queensland also saw a small improvement in grape intake for the year with 12,097 tonnes and 429 tonnes processed, respectively (Table 4).

The average price paid across all varieties of $630 per tonne for the year represents a 10% decline compared to $701 per tonne in 2021. The overall decrease in average value can be attributed to the reduction in the average value paid for reds of $707 per tonne, which was partly offset by a 2% increase in the average value of whites at $548 per tonne (Table 5). From historical records, the average value of whites has increased every year since 2014 and the price recorded in 2022 was the highest level since 2008. The primary reason for the overall decrease in the average price of reds can be attributed to the decline in fruit from warm inlands regions which fell 30% from $547 per tonne to $384 per tonne (Table 5). In addition, for the first time since 2005, the average value for white grapes from warm inland regions was higher than for the red crop. For cool-temperate regions, reds were sold for 3% less than in 2021 while there was an increase of 11% for whites. The average value for whites from the cool-temperate regions was the highest ever reported on average for Australia at $1,342 per tonne (Table 5), compared to $1,532 per tonne for reds, significantly closing the gap in price difference between the varieties.

Vintage 2023 and industry outlook

The challenges within the industry over the last few years have been welldocumented, from drought, labour shortages, freight challenges and a downturn in wine tourism to the crippling tariffs imposed by the Chinese government and cost pressures due to surging inflation.

Growers are increasingly concerned with the impact of 2022 grapes selling below cost of production and, in some cases, barely covered the marginal costs of harvest and delivery. The downturn in grape prices, particularly red grapes falling at an unsustainable level, is creating anxiety and panic amongst growers. Growers without a fixed price contract may find themselves in a precarious position with high stock holding in the marketplace.

China’s anti-dumping and countervailing duties on containers of wine of two litres or less (excluding sparkling and fortified wine), which effectively shut the doors on Australia’s largest export market by value, were expected to apply for five years from 28 March 2021. However, in recent months there have been signs that trade relations with China might be improving, bringing hope that some of Beijing’s tariffs on Australian exports might be eased.

Growers are encouraged to communicate with wineries for planning to have a reasonable expectation on price and market demand going into vintage 2023/24. The next few years are likely to be slow and painful for the industry, necessitating growers to recognise and prepare if prices fall even further, particularly for Shiraz and Cabernet.

Wine Australia and government agencies are working on the gradual recovery of exports through improving access to new and emerging markets. However, it will take significant investment and time to build up these markets and they are not likely to offset the gap left by the Chinese market in the short term.

It is paramount that growers and producers maintain an open round table discussion to support decision making, enabling as much planning time for businesses during this volatile period to create a mutually beneficial outcome for the industry.

Snapshot 2019 2020 2021 2022 Change (%)
Winegrape intake (tonnes) 1,728,454 1,543,887 2,005,155 1,734,260 -14%
Total value Australian crush (A$ billion) 1.17 1.15 1.56 1.46 -6%
Average purchased grape price (A$/tonne) 664 694 701 630 -10%
Exports (year to June) (ML) 801 730 693 625 -10%
(A$ million) 2,864 2,840 2,559 2,082 -19%
(A$/L) 3.58 3.89 3.69 3.33 -10%
Imports (year to October) (ML) 100 102 109 102 -6%
(A$ million) 850 834 902 930 3%
(A$/L) 8.49 8.16 8.27 9.11 10%

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