By Andrew Starke

The past financial year saw another decrease in wine production, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The total grape crush for 2008-09 was 1.7 million tonnes, down by 5.4 percent on the previous year; the area of grape vines fell by 157,000 hectares and the yield dropped to 10.7 tonnes per hectare.

The crush produced 1.2 billion litres of wine, down by 5.9 percent on last years figure.

Red/rosé wine production was 630 million litres (down 6.8 percent) and white wine accounted for 542 million litres (down 4.5 percent).

Exports of Australian produced wine rose 5.2 percent (to 752 million litres) and domestic sales went up slightly to 430 million litres.

However, as Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (AWBC) research for 2009 confirms, an increase in bulk exports has seen overall volume figures rise while value figures have slumped.

Listed wine producer Australian Vintage (AVG), the company behind the McGuigan wine brand, has bucked the trend with a nine percent jump in export sales (by value).

CEO Dane Hudson said this performance was in stark contrast to other Australian wine exporters.

“This is particularly impressive given that in the Australian industry overall export sales (by value) for the 12 months were down eight percent,” he said. “Regardless of the very strong Australian dollar, Australian Vintage continues to target doubling its after tax profit for the full year.”

AVG will announce its audited half year results in late February.

Meanwhile, ABS cautioned that, despite the rise in exports and domestic sales, inventories of beverage wine remained at 1.9 billion litres.

Red/rosé table wine stocks of one billion litres still represent more than half of the beverage wine stock held by winemakers.

The 13 largest winemakers crushed a total of 1.3 million tonnes of grapes, or 73 percent of the total crush.

These 13 businesses averaged 98,000 tonnes each.

Conversely, the 76 smallest winemakers accounted for only 0.4 percent of all grapes crushed and averaged 96 tonnes each.

A third of all winemaking locations were in South Australia, accounting for 43 percent of the national wine grape crush.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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