Wine Companies

Australian Wine Producers

Number of wine producers

The total number of wine producers in Australia dropped by 5% in 2021. There are now a total of 2164 producers in the country with the reduction in numbers visible in all states except Tasmania (see Table 11). South Australia lost 57 producers (8%), reversing the growth in numbers that had occurred in 2020. However, the state is still home to approximately 30% of the country’s wine producers, contributing more than half of the nation’s crush (see Table 4). Victoria has only 19 producers fewer than SA with a total of 635 recorded in 2021.

Approximately 46% of Australian wine producers (down from 64% in 2020) process less than 50 tonnes of grapes per annum (see Table 12). This boutique style of production enables Australia to offer a unique variety of products to international and domestic consumers. The number of medium-sized producers, processing 50-499 tonnes, fell by 3%, with 444 winemakers operating within this category across the country. In 2021, three additional companies joined the list of those processing more than 500 tonnes.

However, the largest increase came from those who did not crush any grapes at all in 2021: a total of 328 winemakers made no wine in the past 12 months. These comprised roughly 15% of the nation’s wine producers. Drought, bushfires, smoke taint, flooding and frost were seen as responsible for this result, with regions across a number of states experiencing adverse conditions during the previous two vintages.

Despite the difficulties associated with pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions, most Australian wine businesses continue to operate a cellar door, offering tasting experiences for patrons. Queensland recorded the largest proportion with 79% of wine producers having a cellar door attached to their business (see Table 13). This higher ratio is not surprising given the large number of smaller boutique winemakers and the importance of tourism, in the Sunshine State. In contrast, only 50% of South Australian wine producers operate a cellar door. With more than half of all the wine produced in Australia coming from SA, it is not uncommon for wineries in the state to transact with wholesale customers only.

Wine producer industry rankings

Although a tumultuous year, the industry as a whole performed remarkably well. Casella Family Brands claimed the top spot as the largest Australian exporter of branded wine by volume (see Table 16). In November 2021, the company celebrated the 20th anniversary of its flagship brand, Yellow Tail, with the brand becoming one of the most phenomenal successes of Australian wine sales. Treasury Wine Estates’ export position slipped slightly, impacted by the China trade restrictions. These two largest exporters were closely followed by Andrew Peace Wines, Accolade Wines and Pernod Ricard Winemakers to complete the top five producers with the largest export volume. It is also worth noting that Brown Family Wine Group (with labels including Brown Brothers, Devil’s Corner, Tamar Ridge, Pirie and Innocent Bystander) is growing and continuing the success of Prosecco amidst a market resurgence for this fruit-driven variety. The company was ranked as the 14th largest exporter by volume (see Table 16).

Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) also continues its long reign as the most valuable wine producer in the export market (see Table 17). The top 5 exporters by value remained the same as last year. In addition, TWE is also Australia’s largest wine producer by volume, supplying products to satisfy a substantial portion of the global appetite for Australia wine (see Table 19). A previously announced operational restructure at TWE is now in effect with the company split into three divisions: Penfolds, Treasury Premium Brands and Treasury Americas. The profitability of the portfolio-led operating model is yet to produce results, but investors are largely optimistic about the prospects of the restructure.

Since its acquisition by a private equity firm, Accolade Wines has remained the largest company by winegrape intake, with a brand new head office opening in Adelaide’s CBD. The company has grown rapidly over the past 24 months, with large capital expenditure projects mainly in South Australia. The company crushed approximately 247,322 tonnes of grapes in 2021 (see Table 18). Casella Family Brands was close behind with 230,064 tonnes in winegrape intake. These rankings have remained largely unchanged from previous years. However, it is interesting to note that there is a large disparity between the tonnage crushed for the top 20 wine companies by grape intake. The largest wine company crushed as much as six times more than the 10th company, while the company ranked 20th only crushed approximately 1.3% of the largest company (see Table 18).

Treasury Wine Estates remains the wine company with the largest production (see Table 19) and with the highest revenue (see Table 20) in Australia. The company focuses on premium wines rather than mass-market wine, helping to strengthen its revenue stream. Clare Valley family-owned winery Taylors Wines had a big year with soaring production and a strong focus on big reds, especially Cabernet. TWE and Pernod Ricard Winemakers stayed firmly in their top positions based on revenue. However, Casella Family Brands has shown signs of large-scale growth by overtaking Accolade Wines in terms of revenue (see Table 20). Casella is also the second largest wine producer by sales of branded wine (see Table 21). Brown Family Wine Group also had a successful year with an increase in revenue and export sales moving its position into the top ten lists (see Tables 20 and 21).

Casella Family Brands and Brown Family Wine Group both remain long-established family-owned companies, bucking a trend of shifting from family-owned wineries to multi-brand corporate ownership. Casella Family Brands had its biggest year ever in terms of volumes and turnover with the company also innovating into the whisky and low alcohol markets. The company is continuing its expansion with 8583 hectares now under vine (an increase of 1884 hectares since 2020). This, along with the largest processing facility in Australia located at Yenda (see Table 23), point to no signs of slowing down for the family-owned business. Flagship product Yellow Tail continues to be made by the sixth generation of the Casella family and the brand continues to be one of the most recognisable of Australian exported wines.

Brown Family Wine Group has also experienced an improvement in its ranking after the success of its premium products in international markets, particularly Singapore, South Korea and the US. Its premium collection is expected to continue to drive growth into the next financial year. Family businesses are traditionally hard to keep within family hands, and the success of family businesses such as Casella Family Brands and Brown Family Wine Group is testament to the robustness, innovation and resilience of the wine industry generally in Australia.

There were no major changes to rankings by vineyard area (see Table 22), while rankings for large-scale wine processing facilities (see Table 23) remained largely the same. One of Australia’s oldest wineries, the historic Houghton Wines in WA’s Swan Valley, established in 1836, changed hands in 2021 from Accolade Wines to the local Yukich family. The family will rename the Houghton property the Nikola Estate and together with the Oakover Grounds, owned by the family for the past 30 years, the original Houghton plots are finally reunited (see Table 15).

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