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Australia 2013 harvest ‘biggest in five years’

Australia's 2013 wine harvest was the biggest in five years, rising more than 10% on 2012 to hit an estimated 1.83m tonnes, according to the Winemakers' Federation of Australia (WFA).

Australia Hunter Valley Tyrrell’s Wines vineyards

The increase in grape tonnage came despite reports of average to below average yields, on the back of Australia’s hottest summer on record, and one of the driest.

Describing the growing season as ‘good’, the WFA said grape prices had continued to rebound from the low of 2011, rising 9% to A$499 per tonne, the highest figure recorded since 2009.

‘The increased crop is attributable to an absence of major events such as disease or flooding which affected previous vintages, as well as the availability of sufficient water for irrigation,’ the WFA said.

However, it added that the sustained warm dry weather had produced unusual ripening dates and a ‘very condensed harvest’ in many regions.

Demand for red wine grapes continues to grow, with average prices per tonne up 13% to A$619, while the price for white wine grapes was up only 2% to A$388/tonne.

Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz led the price increases, rising 18%, 16% and 15% respectively, while Chardonnay prices were up 6%, and Merlot, Grenache and Sauvignon Blanc all rose 3%.

However, Semillon prices declined 3% and the average cost of Riesling edged down by 0.3%.

Red wine grapes’ share of the crop was up to 52%, with the top three varieties – Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – accounting for 86% of that figure.

But the WFA highlighted the increasingly important role played by minor varieties such as Mataro, Tempranillo, Durif, Sangiovese and Barbera.

Among white wine grapes, Chardonnay accounted for 45% of the crush, well ahead of Sauvignon Blanc at 11% and Semillon, whose share declined to 9%.

Muscat Blanc more than doubled its 2012 crush, with Muscadelle and Viognier also showing moderate increases.

Written by Richard Woodard

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