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The Murray Darling has faced some challenges this season. The region was hit by a severe tornado in November, estimated to have caused over $6 million damage to winegrapes, and saw some growers lose their entire crop.
The 2015 harvest kicked off on January 7, according to Zilzie Wines and produced good quality all around the region.
Mike Stone, Murray Valley Winegrowers Inc. chief executive, said the region experienced a compressed vintage which caused some issues
All signs were pointing to a recovery in the region until Mike Stone from Murray Valley Wine Growers announced local growers had received the worst prices in nearly a decade.
Stone said unsustainable prices from wine companies would see those who had just been hanging on leave the industry this year.
“Wine grape prices must improve in 2016 or the industry in this region will continue to shrink,” he said.
Stone said the region lost more than 60 growers and almost 800 hectares last year, which translates to 20,000 tonnes.
“And we would expect based on the prices this year for that trend to continue.”
Stone said things could not get much worse for wine grape growers at the moment.
“Prices are probably the worst in seven years, and apart from a spike in 2008, they are the worst they’ve been in about 10 years,” he said.
Growers with uncontracted fruit have been offered as low as $180 per tonne for red varieties, when indicative prices earlier in the season showed potential of about $330 per tonne.
“It’s just unsustainable,” Stone said. “Most of the prices for grapes this year have not covered the cost of production, and unfortunately that was the case last year.
“Anecdotally, a number of growers I have spoken to reckon this year is going to be their last.
Stone said he hoped 2016 would see an improvement in prices.