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Winegrapes dumped in Sunraysia

Originally published in the Weekly Times

Sunraysia winegrape growers have started dumping Shiraz and other red varieties on the ground, after failing to find a winery that will take them.

Video footage emerged late yesterday of a Red Cliffs grower’s crop that he had dumped on the ground.

“I’ve done the first 10 acres and will do the other 10 today,” the grower said, which equates to about 170 tonnes of grapes left to rot.

The loss is a direct result of China’s imposition of anti-dumping duties on Australian wine imports or 116 to 218 per cent in November 2020, which has gutted the $1.1 billion market for predominantly premium red varieties.

Even growers with contracts are getting the bare minimum of $330 to $360 a tonne for Shiraz and cabernet grapes, while Merlot stagnates $300 to $330 a tonne.

Murray Valley Winegrowers Incorporated chief executive Paul Derrico said the prices on offer were half what growers were getting two years ago.

“As we expected it’s all coming to a head now that the reds are ripening or over ripen,” MVWI chairman Chris Dent said

“There haven’t been any wineries active in the spot market.”

He said it was very difficult to determine just how many tonnes of grapes were being dumped on the ground.

Mr Dent warned the problem was exacerbated by wineries coming into this season

“With pretty high stock levels, China’s tariffs and the global shipping crisis, (meaning) wineries not moving wine,” he said.

“In the next 12 to 18 months there’s a lot of uncertainty, so no winery is looking to take a punt with an uptake in sales. We’re going into a bit of holding pattern.”

Australian Grape and Wine industry (AGW) has previously warned the closure of the China market, freight shortages and a record 2.1 million tonne 2021 vintage had converged to create a concerning supply demand imbalance.

“Many wine producers are approaching vintage with significantly higher than normal inventories and full tanks,” AGW reported.