Australia’s wine grape crush in 2018 was 1.79 million tonnes, above the long-term average of 1.76 million tonnes, and the average purchase price for wine grapes increased by 8% to $609 per tonne, the highest level since 2008.
Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark welcomed the increase in the average purchase price.
"The increase in grape prices applied to both red and white grapes, with red grape prices increasing by 11% to $768 a tonne while values for white varieties increased, on average, 5% to $444 a tonne’, Clark said in a media statement.
Winemakers’ Federation of Australia Chief Executive Officer Tony Battaglene said another good vintage was welcomed by winemakers and provided the raw materials for the quality wine required to supply Australia's growing export and domestic demand.
The divergence between red and white average prices has increased steadily since 2011, driven by strengthening relative demand for red wine.
Despite the higher prices, the total estimated value of the crush decreased by 3 per cent to $1.11 billion, reflecting the 10 per cent reduction in total crop size from the record 2017 vintage of 1.99 million tonnes.
The decline in tonnes compared with last year was greatest in percentage terms in the cool/temperate regions, which were down by 20% overall, while the warm irrigated regions (Riverina, Murray Darling–Swan Hill and Riverland) were less affected by the drier spring and summer, with yields down just 5%.
Of the major varieties, shiraz tonnes decreased by 17%, cabernet sauvignon by 14% and merlot by 19%.
Chardonnay was the only major variety to go against the trend, increasing by 9% and restoring its share of the white crush to 47% after falling to 42% last year.
The calculated average purchase price of $609 per tonne was up by 8% on the price of $565 a tonne calculated in 2017. This figure is the highest since 2008.
The National Vintage Report is based on a survey of winemakers conducted in May–June 2018.