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Whites overtake reds in Australian winegrape crush for first time in a decade

Vintage 2024 at Tyrrell’s Wines in the Hunter Valley. 

The National Vintage Report 2024 was released today by Wine Australia, revealing that the Australian winegrape crush increased year-on-year by nine percent in 2024 to an estimated[1] 1.43 million tonnes.

Despite the growth, this year’s crush is still well below the 10-year average of 1.73 million tonnes, following the Vintage 2023 crush which marked a 23-year low.

The white winegrape share of the crush increased to 51% – the first time since 2014 that the white crush has been higher than the red crush.

Market insights manager at Wine Australia, Peter Bailey, said there had been a declining trend in the Australian winegrape crush over the past few years.

“This is the third vintage in the past five that has been below the 10-year average. As a result, we’ve seen the five-year average decrease by over 100,000 tonnes in the past two years,” Bailey said.

“The overall reduction in the red crush is entirely driven by Shiraz, which decreased by nearly 48,000 tonnes while most other red varieties increased. This decrease was not just from the inland regions, with the Barossa and Clare Valleys accounting for one-third of the reduction,” Bailey said.

“Seasonal factors have contributed to 2024 being another small vintage. However, the significant further reduction in the red crush can be largely attributed to decisions made by grapegrowers and wine businesses to reduce production. These decisions are being driven by low grape prices, significant red wine stock overhangs and reduced global demand for wine.”

“However, the reduction in the crush doesn’t necessarily reflect a decrease in the underlying supply base. There is no indication that the vineyard area has declined significantly, so the potential for a large crop still exists without active management of yields.”

The overall year-on-year increase in the crush was 112,000 tonnes. This was driven entirely by white winegrape varieties, which increased by 117,000 tonnes (19%) to 722,000 tonnes. Despite the 19% increase, the white varieties crush was still 10% below the 10-year average and the second smallest in 17 years.

The crush of red grapes declined by just under 5000 tonnes (1%) to 705,000 tonnes, the smallest since the drought-affected 2007 vintage, and 40% below its peak of 1.2 million tonnes in 2021.

Chardonnay increased by 31% to 333,000 tonnes, overtaking Shiraz to resume the title of largest variety by crush size that it last held in 2013. Shiraz decreased by 14% to 298,000 tonnes – its smallest crush since 2007.

South Australia accounted for the largest share of the national crush size (49%) but decreased by 4% and lost 6 percentage points of share to the other states. All other states except Western Australia increased their crush compared with 2023, with Tasmania increasing by 42% to a record estimated crush of 16,702 tonnes.

Value of the winegrape crush

The grape crush value of the 2024 vintage is estimated to be $1.01 billion, a 2% increase over the previous year. This was a result of the 9% increase in the tonnage being offset by an overall decrease in the average value from $642 per tonne to $613 per tonne.

Across the warm inland regions, both reds and whites declined by 5% in average value, while in the cool / temperate regions there was a small increase (3%) in whites, while the average value for reds was flat (Figure 1).

Bailey said that the overall decline in the average value was mainly driven by a decrease in average grape prices paid for both red and white grapes from warm inland regions, combined with an increase in the share of tonnes from these regions.

“It’s important for growers to look at the price changes for individual regions and varieties, to get a true picture of the market signals. However, the overall 2024 results, particularly the on-going decline in prices for the major inland varieties, indicate that there is no shortfall in supply from the inland regions, despite the successive low vintages.”

Bailey noted that a better understanding of the underlying supply base was critical to enable growers and winemakers to make informed decisions regarding future grape production requirements.

“We welcome the recent announcement of the Grape and Wine Sector Long-term Viability Support Package from the Australian Government, which will support the development of a national vineyard register framework to help give the sector a clearer picture of the true supply nationally.”

The National Vintage Report is based on a voluntary survey of winemakers conducted in April–May each year. In 2024, responses were received from a record 711 businesses and the survey is estimated to account for 88% of the total volume of the Australian winegrape crush in 2024.

The report is available at www.wineaustralia.com/market-insights/national-vintage-report. Vintage survey statistics, including regional winegrape pricing, are available on Wine Australia’s Vintage Survey dashboard. The Grape Price Indicators dashboard for inland regions has also been updated with the latest data.

[1] Estimate based on responses to the National Vintage Survey 2024

 

Image courtesy Wine Australia

 

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