New wine producers are opening in Australia at a rate of one every three days – and they're all chasing a tiny fraction of the market.

According to figures released this week in the 20th annual Australian & New Zealand Wine Industry Directory, Australia’s 1400 small-to-medium-sized wine companies contribute to only 6% of total branded wine sales.

The top 20 companies account for 94% of sales, and the top four – Southcorp Wines, BRL Hardy, Orlando Wyndham and Beringer Blass – account for 70% of total sales between them.

There were 147 new wine producers in 2001, an 11% increase from 2000. There are now 1,465 producers in Australia, compared with the 344 listed when the Directory was first published in 1984.

Wine Industry Directory editor Michael Major said, ‘There has been much talk of an oversupply of winegrapes, however an alarming problem could also be an oversupply of small businesses who are trying to compete in an industry that is becoming more dominated by the huge global wine companies.’

Victoria has 416 wine producers, South Australia 353, New South Wales 331, Western Australia 220. Tasmania and Queensland have about 70 each, and Northern Territory has just one, in Alice Springs.

Major added that new wineries were finding it difficult to think up original names. Some of the more wacky new names in 2001 were Tin Shed Wines, Bird in Hand, Due South, Oscar’s Leap, and Ten Minutes by Tractor.

picture courtesy of Vintage Direct

Written by Adam Lechmere12 April 2002