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Delhi Wine Club
Aussie and Kiwi Grape Crops Exceed Forecasts

Posted: Wednesday, 22 June 2011 17:43

Aussie and Kiwi Grape Crops Exceed Forecasts

June 22: While the Australian harvest of 2011 has been 1% higher at 1.63 million tons than the estimates despite a year marred by diseases, heavy rains and floods destroying up to 80% of crops and thus creating more problems for the producers already battling with wine glut and depressed prices, New Zealand has also exceeded all expectations and has announced another record-breaking vintage.

The increased Australian harvest under the current scenario is not a good sign as sustainable production. Stephen Strachan, CEO of the Winemakers' Federation of Australia, said, 'The vintage is too big. It may seem harsh, given the year many people have had, to focus on the longer term rather than the demands of the present, but a harvest in excess of 1.6m tons is out of step with the realities of sustainable production and the market opportunity for premium Australian wine.'

''Twenty years ago, if we had a season like this we would not have been able to put away a crop of anywhere near this level. We have seen dramatic improvements in the way we manage wet seasons in Australia and it's a credit to our grape growers,'' Strachan added.

Much of the wine produced is expected to go into the bulk wine market. Strachan said although Australia could produce large wine crops, the bulk wine market was not sustainable.  He called on winemakers to consider partnering with growers to share the cost of removing excess vines, rather than selling them into a production pool that sold to the bulk wine trade.

Many growers are being forced to sell their grapes at A$ 150 a ton- half the amount needed to break even- a situation many growers have suffered and learnt the hard way in India during the last couple of years. But the consumer is expected to be benefitted and if the Indian wine importers are smart they can negotiated lower prices and pass on the benefits to the Indian consumer, thus increasing the market share of Australia wines .

However, the WFA report shows that the current vintage estimates were on par with the five-year average of 1.63 million tonnes, with inland regions increasing their share of the grapes crushed against a fall in cool climate regions.

Interestingly, more white grapes were produced than red, accounting for 52 per cent of the harvest as Chardonnay became the most popular variety crushed, more than the signature grape varietal, Shiraz, according to Decanter.

The equivalent Kiwi professional body, New Zealand Winegrowers has reported that the 2011 crop reached 328,000 tons-about 40,000 more than the previous record vintage in 2008 that had caused massive oversupply problems and reduced profitability. However, the association defends the larger than expected crop, claiming it will help to meet the growing international demands.

Marcus Pickens of another professional body Wine Marlborough, reportedly said, 'I'm reassured that we have all learnt a lesson since 2008. Don't bring more fruit in than you can sell. The harvest is a lot bigger than the expected 310,000 tons but the increase in export sales speak for themselves and our markets continue to grow.'


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