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Australia grubbing up programme ‘too slow’ and too little

Wine bosses in Australia are frustrated by the slow progress of the country's vine removal programme, with around half the projected amount of vines being grubbed up since 2009.

Australia: 20,000 surplus vines

The 2009 Wine Restructuring Action Agenda (WRAA) indicated there were 20-30,000 hectares of surplus vineyards in Australia.

The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia estimates 14,000 ha have been removed since the Agenda’s launch but reform has not been as been as extensive as hoped.

Stephen Strachan, CEO of the WFA, told Decanter.com, ‘Reform has been slower than we hoped it would be but it is happening.

‘The reassuring news is that there is some progress, albeit slow progress. Based on two surveys, we estimate that, in the two years to June 2011, there have been approximately 14,000 hectares removed,’ he added.

Since the launch of the Agenda, the global financial crisis and an increasingly strong Australian currency has made business even tougher for Australian producers.

‘Moving forward two years, if anything, the outlook for Australian wine sales is even more challenging, largely on the back of the Australian dollar appreciation,’ said Strachan. ‘Accordingly, the [estimate of] 20,000 hectares of surplus vineyards ought to be considered to be on the low side.’

Figures from another national body, Wine Australia, show there are another 5,000ha of vines not yet bearing fruit, which could potentially add another 50-60,000 tonnes to current production within the next three years.

In 2011, the harvest stood at 1.63m tonnes.

Written by Rebecca Gibb in Auckland

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