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Australian wine producers hit hard

 

August 2020

Dry conditions, bushfires and extreme weather events have left Australia’s wine industry ruing its smallest vintage in 13 years, as growers and winemakers battle huge financial losses.

The latest figures from Wine Australia reveal the 2020 national winegrape crush of $1.52 million tonnes, equivalent to more than one billion litres of wine, was 13 per cent below the 10-year average of 1.75 million tonnes.

According to the ABC it could have been worse — Australia’s three large inland regions Riverland, Murray Darling Swan-Hill and Riverina, together make up 75 per cent of the national crush — and those regions only had a total yield reduction of 4 per cent.

However, the remaining regions collectively experienced a 34 per cent yield reduction, with individual regions fairing much worse.

Wine Australia chief executive officer Andreas Clark said, despite the expectation of high quality 2020 wines, many individual growers and winemakers were wiped out or saw significant losses.

Tyrrell’s Wines Chris Tyrrell told ABC News, the bushfires had a significant impact on their family business.

Tyrrell’s Wines in the Hunter Valley recorded one of its worst harvests in decades, losing 80 per cent of its wine grapes to smoke-taint.

Mr Tyrrell said if grapes had high levels of smoke-taint the wines could carry "ashy, quite bitter and quite off-putting characters".

Chair of the Riverland Winegrape Growers Association Brett Proud said high water prices put the wine industry at risk.(Supplied: Brett Proud)

Meanwhile, growers in Australia’s largest wine production region, the Riverland, also experienced a major hail storm and extreme heat, which reduced yields.

Chair of Riverland Winegrape Growers Association Brett Proud said, while growers hit by hail saw significant grape and financial losses, extreme temperatures and high prices for water were also major challenges for the region’s producers.

"High water prices are putting the wine industry at risk," Mr Proud said.

"There are some growers now who realise they can make more profit out of trading their water entitlements or trading their water allocations year by year so unless wineries and vineyards are profitable in time the wine industry is really under threat."


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