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Wine Industry Drought Taskforce: threat of low wine output following reduced water allocations may see Australian wine industry move from net exports to imports of wine for cask products

Posted by waterweek on 10 October 2007

Australia’s $3 billion wine export industry was set to suffer as grape supplies swung back from a glut to a shortage next year, reported Merdith Booth, in The Advertiser, (26/09/2007, p.22), quoting a Wine Industry Drought Taskforce.

Blames drought for expected poor harvest: The taskforce blamed reduced water allocations in Australia’s irrigated regions, which produced 65 per cent of Australia’s total harvest, for an expected 800,000 tonne to 1.3 -million tonne vintage, down from 1.9 million tonnes this year.

Dramatic turnaround for the industry: Taskforce member and Winemakers Federation of Australia chief executive Stephen Strachan said wineries would move to import wine for cask products, depending on the outcome of the season, to bolster wine exports next year. “[The harvest forecast] is down further than we expected it would be,” Strachan said. “We’re now talking about exports dropping and potential for [bulk wine] imports. It’s been a dramatic turnaround.”

Yields set to fall drastically: WFA and Wine Grape Growers Australia based forecasts on their own modelling, which would be refined as the season progressed. “However, we know for certain that yields will be down dramatically in those regions relying heavily on irrigation water from the Murray-Darling,” WGGA executive director Mark McKenzie said.

SA, Vic growers to suffer most: Hardest hit would be South Australia’s Riverland and Victoria’s Murray Valley, where water allocations were 10 to 16 per cent of full allocations respectively. New South Wales’ Riverina district had been allocated enough Murray River water to meet critical supplies for essential human needs, permanent plantings and essential industries, he said.

Anxious winemakers await next forecast: Winemakers Federation’s Strachan said Australia’s wine surplus would disappear into a shortfall for many Australian wineries. The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation expected to report a more accurate forecast on 27 November.

The Advertiser, 26/9/2007, p. 19


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