The Australian winegrape crush for 2019 is estimated to be 1.73 million tonnes, just one per cent below the 10-year average, according to the National Vintage Report 2019 released today by Wine Australia.
This figure is well above early predictions that the harvest would be 10–20 per cent down on the 2018 vintage.
Many regions did suffer significant losses, including the Barossa, Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley, which were worst affected in tonnage terms, but crops were generally not as low as originally feared.
The effects of heat and dryness were mitigated by good canopy management and irrigation regimes, while the dry season reduced disease pressure, and the lower yields were offset by exceptional colour and flavour in the resulting wines.
The biggest gains were in the Limestone Coast regions (Coonawarra, Padthaway and Wrattonbully), which produced much larger crops than their low-yielding 2018 vintage, while the warm inland regions (Riverland, Riverina and Murray Darling–Swan Hill) had very similar crops to last year, demonstrating the ability of managed irrigation, when available, to offset the effects of heat and dryness (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Percentage change in crush for largest 20 Geographical Indication (GI) regions 2019 vs 2018
Crush by state
South Australia accounted for 50 per cent of the crush, with New South Wales second largest (30 per cent) and Victoria third (17 per cent). South Australia’s reported crush was down 1 per cent, New South Wales was down 3 per cent, Victoria was down 4 per cent and Western Australia was down 6 per cent.
Crush by colour and variety
Red varieties generally fared better than whites in terms of yield, with the red crush up by 16,224 tonnes (2 per cent) compared with 2018, while whites were down 66,949 tonnes (8 per cent). Most varieties showed only small changes overall, except Chardonnay, which was down by 47,975 tonnes (12 per cent) to 356,250 tonnes – its lowest crush in the past 5 years. This brought its share of the national crush down to 22 per cent, in line with its share of exports in 2018.
The Prosecco crush has increased from 2189 tonnes in 2015 to 9936 tonnes in 2019 – nearly a 50 per cent average annual increase. This has seen it jump from seventeenth largest white variety in 2015 to tenth in 2019 – displacing Verdelho in the top 10. This growth in Prosecco production is mirrored in the domestic market, where sales of Prosecco have increased by more than 100 per cent in the past 2 years and it is now the eleventh largest varietal/wine style by value in the off-trade retail wine market.
Shiraz remained the dominant variety with 418,364 tonnes – accounting for 44 per cent of the red crush and 24 per cent of the total crush – despite its crush being down by 2 per cent compared with last year. Shiraz accounts for 29 per cent of exported Australian wine and exports grew by 5 per cent in volume in 2018.
The national average purchase price in 2019 was $664 per tonne, up by 9 per cent on the 2018 overall average value of $611 per tonne. This figure is the highest since 2008 and it is the fifth consecutive vintage where the average purchase price for winegrapes has increased. Since hitting a low in 2011, the national average grape price has increased by a compound average annual rate of 6 per cent. However, the national average value is still only 71 per cent of its peak in 2001 ($933 per tonne).
The average purchase price of red grapes overall increased by 9 per cent from $772 per tonne in 2018 to $845 per tonne, while the average price of white grapes increased by 4 per cent from $444 per tonne in 2018 to $462 per tonne this year. The divergence between red and white average price has increased steadily since 2011, driven by strengthening relative demand for Australian red wine in export markets (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Comparison of red and white average winegrape purchase value 2007–19
The total farmgate value of Australian winegrapes is estimated to be $1.17 billion in 2019, an increase of $63 million (6 per cent) compared with 2018 despite the reduction in tonnage.
Download the National Vintage Report
 As response rates can vary from year to year, apparent changes in the crush may be partly attributable to a change in the response base. Percentage changes are particularly unreliable in smaller regions.
 The crush from Murray Darling–Swan Hill has been allocated to Victoria and New South Wales in the proportions 59 per cent/41 per cent – reflecting the respective vineyard areas according to the National Vineyard Scan 2018.
 IRI MarketEdge March 2019