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The Riverland vintage concluded for most wineries during the second week of April. As it was with most other regions, Chris Byrne, Riverland Wine executive officer, described the vintage as very compressed, following an almost perfect growing season.
The evenness of the season caused some confusion with a number of varieties maturing a week or two earlier than normal causing some challenges for wineries around scheduling of the intake, Byrne said.
All wineries, including several from outside the region, commented favourably about the quality of the intake and the resultant wine, according to Byrne.
Early indication from a survey of wineries indicates the likely intake of Riverland fruit of about 420,000 tonnes, he said. It is difficult to make an accurate estimate because of the large number of tonnes exported from the region, offset to some extent by grapes brought into the region for processing.
Byrne said from an economic perspective, circumstances for both wineries and growers continue to be a challenge.
Some Wineries have signed on to a voluntary code of conduct to give grape growers an indication of the price they could offer for each variety.
Byrne said despite the strong vintage, the offers have been discouraging.
“The recent upswing in demand for chardonnay suggest that some of the rumours of very low prices will be put to rest, he said. “We’ve been consistently hearing prices around $235 a tonne in the past week, because some of the wineries are getting worried about securing the fruit.”
Byrne said when the conditions in the already over-supplied global wine industry improved, the reforms undertaken in the Riverland would place it in a good position to profit.
“The impact of the last few years has been the levelling out of the industry. A number of growers have left, but those who have remained are determined to stay for the long haul.
“We must bear in mind what this industry is going through is symptomatic of what’s happening globally.”