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Australian wine sector rebounds with exceptional vintage in 2021

Market Bulletin | Issue 242
06 Jul 2021
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The 2021 Australian winegrape crush is estimated[1] to be 2.03 million tonnes, the largest ever recorded, after a season characterised by near-perfect growing and ripening conditions across most states and regions. The larger crush balanced out the two previous below-average vintages, with the average of the three being closely in-line with the long-term average.

Overview of the 2021 winegrape crush

The 2021 crush was 31 per cent higher than the 2020 crush of 1.54 million tonnes[2], and 17 per cent above the 10-year average of 1.74 million tonnes. The estimated yield was just under 14 tonnes per hectare, slightly lower than the next largest crush in 2017 when it is estimated that the area of vineyards was about 5000 hectares less (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Australian winegrape crush and average yield 2005–2021

Where did the crush come from?

South Australia accounted for the largest share of the crush, with an estimated 1.06 million tonnes (52 per cent of the total). Its crush increased by 44 per cent overall compared with the previous year.

NSW was the second largest contributor with an estimated 0.58 million tonnes, but lost share from 32 per cent to 29 per cent of the national crush as it only increased by 17 per cent. Victoria crushed 0.33 million tonnes and increased by 25 per cent, retaining a 17 per cent share overall. Western Australia and Tasmania increased by 21 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. The reported crush from Queensland more than doubled, but from a very low base following drought and difficult growing conditions in the previous vintage (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Share of crush volume and growth by state 2021

Which varieties contributed most?

The crush of red grapes[3] in 2021 is estimated to be 1.16 million tonnes – an increase of more than 300,000 tonnes (37 per cent) compared with 2020. This was the largest red crush for at least 15 years at 31 per cent above the 10-year average. It was only the second time since 2005 that the red crush has exceeded 1 million tonnes. The white crush was 0.86 million tonnes – an increase of just over 170,000 tonnes (25 per cent) compared with 2020, and 1 per cent above the 10-year average. This smaller increase led to white grapes reducing their share of the total from 45 per cent in 2020 to 43 per cent – the third year in a row that it has declined and the lowest it has been since 2004, reflecting the shift in popularity towards reds over the past few years. (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Share of crush by colour 2005–2021

The main contributor to the increase in red crush was Shiraz, which was up by 41 per cent to a record 538,402 tonnes. This saw its share increase by one percentage point to 46 per cent of all red varieties and 27 per cent of the total crush.

Chardonnay remained the second largest variety overall with 385,114 tonnes, an increase of 33 per cent compared with 2020. Cabernet Sauvignon was the third largest variety with 15 per cent of the total crush, increasing by 36 per cent to 308,496 tonnes.

Of the top 10 red varieties, Mataro/Mourvèdre and Malbec had the largest increases in percentage terms, while Durif continued its strong growth, up 56 per cent compared with the 5-year average[4] and moving up another place in the top 10, overtaking Ruby Cabernet to be the sixth largest red variety. Ruby Cabernet slipped to eighth position as it was one of very few varieties to have a lower reported crush in 2021 than in 2020.

The crush for all top 10 white varieties increased in 2021 compared with the previous year, except for Gewürztraminer, which declined by 4 per cent year-on-year and by 28 per cent compared with the 5-year average. Prosecco showed the strongest growth, increasing by more than 50 per cent compared with 2020 and by more than 100 per cent (more than double) compared with the 5-year average.

The top 10 red and top 10 white varieties together accounted for 96 per cent of the total crush in 2021. The remaining 4 per cent (88,451 tonnes) was made up of a further 68 red and 58 white varieties.

What was the value of the crush?

The value of the 2021 crush at the weighbridge was an estimated $1.56 billion, an increase of $400 million (36 per cent) compared with 2020, as a result of the increased crush and higher grape prices. The overall average value increased by 1 per cent from $694 per tonne to $701 per tonne, the highest since 2008.

The overall increase was made up of a 4 per cent decrease in the average value of reds to $833 per tonne, offset by an 11 per cent increase in the average value of whites to $538 per tonne (see Figure 4). The average value for red varieties declined in 2021 for the first time since 2014, while whites continued to increase in value, indicating that demand is now shifting towards whites, in line with export opportunities in markets such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

Figure 4: Comparison of red and white average winegrape purchase value 2007–2021

The National Vintage Report is available as a PDF on the Wine Australia website, containing commentary and analysis as well as price dispersion information. The full results of the 2021 survey, including state and regional breakdowns and price dispersion tables, can be found on the new, interactive Vintage Survey Dashboard, which allows detailed analysis of the data by region and variety.


[1] Based on responses to the National Vintage Survey 2021

[2] Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, May 2021

[3] Pinot Noir is counted in the red crush although some of it is used to make white (sparkling) wine.

[4] 2016–2020

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.