The following dread news has just arrived in my e. Apart from the wise few who picked modest yields before the heatwave, most of Australia endured the worst vintage in memory in 2008. The worst drought, a dead Murray-Darling Basin; yet yields per hectare are up by a quarter; the total crop’s up one third; export volumes are down 9%; and domestic sales are down 5%. Australia's unsold wine lake is now 2 billion litres. That’s cactus. Absolutely CACTUS. The sand dunes are coming over the mountain.
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS
“Wine production up a third, but sales slow: ABS
“Wine production has gone up, but lower domestic sales and a drop in exports has led to increased wine stocks according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
“The total grape crush for 2007-08 came in at 1.8 million tonnes, up by nearly a third (31%) on last year; this produced 1.2 billion litres of wine, up just over a quarter (27%).
“The total area of grape vines (166,000 hectares) was slightly higher than last year, and with production up, yield rose to 11.8 tonnes per hectare (from 9.3 last year).
“Red/rosé wine production grew by 40% to 673 million litres; white wine production was 553 million litres (up 15%).
“While production was up, exports of Australian wine fell 9% (to 715 million litres) and domestic sales dropped by 5% (to 426 million litres); the United Kingdom remained the largest importer of Australian wine, taking 268 million litres valued at $895 million.
“The combination of higher production and lower sales saw winemaker's inventories rise 5% to 1.9 billion litres, with red/rosé wines representing nearly two thirds of the stock on hand.
“Australia's largest winemakers crushed a total of 1.3 million tonnes of grapes (71% of the total crush), averaging 92,000 tonnes each, while the smallest winemakers averaged 97 tonnes each.
“A third of all winemaking locations were in South Australia, representing 45% of the national crush.
“Nearly all (88%) vineyards in Australia used irrigation this season; average water consumption was 3.2 megalitres per hectare, with drip or micro spray irrigation the most common form of watering.
“Further information is in Australian Wine and Grape Industry (cat. no. 1329.0), available for free download from the ABS website
So where did all the water to grow this come from?
Bore users are capped here at 1.1ML p/ Ha. Mains average use below that on average. Moreover yields here were below 8-9 tonnes p/ Ha. Someone is growing lots of 15-20 tonnes per acre fruit still somewhere.
It seems government attempts to throw temporary lifelines to growers are only prolonging / worsening the situation. First they gave out permits and tax credits, now they are providing financial assistance to buy temporary water in areas that are no longer financially viable in the “market”. Worse, the South Americans are eating our lunch in the under $10 p/b segment overseas. Regions that supply this segment are where the dough is getting spread around. Makes no sense. The worst part is listening to people (inc. gov’t officials) calling it “market failure.” The merciless “market” would have sorted this one years ago.WATERMAN said: