Australia has to increase its exports by nearly 20% this year in order to cope with the red wine glut.

The combination of substantial new plantings over the past few years and a bumper harvest in 2001 has led to a massive oversupply of red wine.

This week the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation is due to release its export approval figures for January. AWBC information and analysis manager Lawrie Stanford is sanguine about the chances of export figures of another 70m litres being met.

‘The next couple of years are going to be challenging,’ he said. ‘But the pressure has been alleviated a little over the last year.’

Stanford said that one of the reasons the wine lake is not as deep as expected is that growers had recognised the problem early and had nipped it in the bud by cutting back on red grape plantings and giving some vineyards over to white.

Australian growers are now pinning their hopes on their two most loyal and dependable markets – the UK and the US.

The former looks as strong as ever, with Brits generally buying more Aussie wine than any other. The story is somewhat different in the US – people are buying much less wine in restaurants but much more cheap wine in supermarkets – but it is still seen as a strong, growing market.

The Canadians, Germans, Danes are also getting a taste for Australian wines, with sales in those countries looking more and more healthy. Volumes went up by various percentages, all of them very respectable: Canada rose 12.3%, Germany 30.4%, and Denmark 84%.

Written by Adam Lechmere, and agencies11 February 2002