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ThirtyFifty - Hens

Wine News

Oz harvest bigger and better than expected

Australia’s 2008 grape harvest has come in above expectations in both size and quality, according to the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA). Hitting 1.83 million tonnes, the vintage is up more than 30% on last year, which is significantly larger than estimations made at the start of the growing season and almost double some early forecasts.

WFA chief executive Stephen Strachan said the figure, ‘represents a resounding success in a challenging year. A harvest such as this should dispel any fears that we are unable to supply our domestic and international markets with the volume of quality Australian wine required.’

However, he added that, ‘With increasing pressure around water shortages, a strong Australian dollar, and a tough international market, we can no longer compete on price alone. Australian wineries produced some extremely high quality wines this vintage – with some regions experiencing their best season in years – and this is where our focus must lie.’

Red grapes increased by over 45% compared to 2007 and accounted for 53% of the harvest, while white grapes increased by a much smaller volume – 18%.

Aromatic varieties continue to increase in popularity. Sauvignon Blanc, for example, rose by 74% to over 66,000 tonnes, but still only accounts for 3.6% of the total harvest. Pinot Noir, too, increased by leaps and bounds, recording a 63% rise to take the grape intake to just over 47,000 tonnes. This represents 2.6% of the crush.

Although escalating from a very small base, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio together stormed ahead with a 130% increase in grapes on last year to take them to 1.6% of the total harvest.

Chardonnay remains the country’s most popular grape – accounting for just over 24% of the total vintage this year – while Shiraz is second at just under 24%.