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Record Australian harvest raises fears of oversupply

Australia’s 2005 vintage saw a record 1.9m tonnes of grapes harvested, up 6% on last year, according to figures released today.

The Winemakers Federation of Australia (WFA) said the harvest was the biggest in Australia’s history as a wine-producing country.

The news will do little to allay fears of a wine glut, as reported on decanter.com earlier this year. However, statistics show that red varieties, thought to be responsible for any future glut, were not behind the rise, showing a marginal increase in production of 0.5% on last year.

Mounting popularity of white varieties is mainly responsible for the record-breaking figures, with their production increasing by 13.5% on 2004. Chardonnay posted the biggest surge with 34% more grapes (416,000 tonnes) being harvested, overtaking Cabernet Sauvignon as Australia’s second most popular grape variety.

Shiraz remains the country’s most popular grape with 454,000 tonnes being brought into wineries across the country this year.

Stephen Strachan, head of the WFA, said that as well as increased production, the 2005 harvest was showing good quality although this would do little to increase profit margins. He admitted the sector would be facing a challenge.

‘These are challenging times for the wine industry, with growth in competition…retail consolidation, discounting and the strong dollar restraining growth in winery margins,’ he said. ‘While we are selling greater volumes of wine, the value of those sales is not increasing as the industry would like it.’

Australia faces grape glut

Australia faces red wine glut in 2005

Written by Oliver Styles, and agencies

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