For the fourth year running, Australia's winegrowers enjoyed a bumper crop of grapes last year.

According to figures out today, the number of grapes harvested for wine in 2001 was a record 1,391,082 tonnes, up 25% on 2000. The biggest single increase came from Western Australia where the tonnage of grapes harvested grew an impressive 62%. South Australia is still the nation’s biggest wine producer.

And there’s encouraging news for the tightening Australian economy, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report. Domestic wine sales of Australian-produced wine went up 4% on the previous year, which is the fifth consecutive annual rise.

Australian wine exports also grew strongly over the same period, with an 18.7% increase in volume, and 28% in value. The UK represents over a third of the wine exported to the EU, almost twice the total amount that goes to North America.

But Australians are drinking less wine from overseas, with imports down 34.9% to 12.8 million litres.

Finally, there were 9,100 people employed in wineries around Australia last year, an increase of more than 400.

Written by Tom Chippendale29 January 2002