Experts warn demand for Aussie wine may outstrip supply this year

May 2, 2019
By Alana House

A new report by Colliers Agribusiness has forecast that demand for Australian wine may outstrip supply in 2019.

“The Australian wine industry is showing strong growth after a challenging decade,” the report notes. “Based on the current outlook, the industry is quickly approaching a point where demand will outstrip supply.”

Colliers predicts the growing international enthusiasm for Australian wine, coupled with the yield from the 2019 vintage being expected to be down on previous years, could lead to a shortage.

“Over the last 10 years the national vintage crush has been about 1.8 million tonnes on average. This year we would expect below that, largely as a result of the heat in eastern Australia and South Australia,” Australian Grape and Wine general manager Lee McLean told The New Daily.

At the same time, the volume and value of Australian wine being exported overseas is rising.

The latest statistics from Wine Australia show a 5% lift in exports for the 12 months to March to $2.78 billion.

This included $1.11 billion of wine to China, up 7% on the previous year.

“Demand for Australian wine is continuing to grow in China,” McLean said. “That’s been a strong story over the last few years. It’s proving to be an excellent and growing market for Australian wine … from Penfolds Grange down to everyday drinking wines.”

Colliers said winemakers were struggling to maintain grape supply levels.

“Recently we have seen growers look to expand as margins in key regions are once again making it economically viable to develop vineyards or bring mothballed plantings back into production,” the report said.

Clare Valley Wine and Grape Association executive officer Tania Matz recently told ABC News that fans of Clare Valley wines should put in orders as soon as possible to avoid missing out, because there would not be much around.

“We’re estimating yields to be down 30–40% on some varieties,” Matz said.

Barossa Grape & Wine Association viticultural development officer Nicki Robins also urged buyers to get in quickly on 2019 releases to avoid potential wine shortages. She told Adelaide Now that yields were down at least 40% this year — the lowest-yielding Barossa vintage of the past decade.

“The lower yields are resulting in Barossa shiraz and cabernet sauvignon with great colour, intense flavours and firm tannin structure, while grenache and mataro have been described as exceptional, and are shaping up to be 2019 vintage standouts,” she said.

According to News Corp, vineyard workers and some vintners reported several of Margaret River’s wineries lost as much as 70% of their harvest, with white grapes worst affected.

Margaret River Wine Association chief executive Amanda Whiteland was more positive, insisting the 70% figure was not widespread and was more like 15-20% down across the board.

“Many wineries are reporting high-quality fruit, particularly chardonnay, albeit lower yields than last year,” she said.

Whiteland said there were reports of “some isolated vineyards not picking” but estimated total yields were down about 15-20% on last year’s harvest.

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