Western Australia has a glut of millions of litres of red wine.

Storage tanks that will be required for the 2004 harvest are full of red wine, West Australian Wine Industry Association chief executive officer Sarah Dent said.

There has been a 165% increase in the area planted with vines in WA in the four years to 2002.

‘Figures show that the majority of vines planted were red varieties as opposed to white,’ Dent told The Australian newspaper. ‘What we’re seeing as a result of that expansion is a much greater focus on needing to export because of the limited growth in the domestic market.’

Dent estimates there are about 5m litres of unsold red wine sitting in tanks. ‘We are actively pursuing opportunities to sell that wine before the start of the 2004 vintage in late January,’ she said.

She added she ‘stopped short’ of suggesting the wine be dumped, but many smaller wineries would face financial ruin if some way were not found to dispose of the wine.

Conversely there is a shortage of white wine grapes in WA and prices have escalated, especially for Chardonnay. ‘There is a great demand for premium white varieties’, Dent said.

Western Australia only produces some 3% of the country’s wine, but around 20% of Australia’s super and ultra-premium wine. Margaret River is responsible for around half the state’s output, from world-rated wineries such as Moss Wood, Cullen, Cape Mentelle and Vasse Felix.

Written by Adam Lechmere, and agencies