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Second small vintage in a row reveals changing fortunes of Australia’s top two varieties

Market Bulletin | Issue 317
09 Jul 2024
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The Australian winegrape crush increased year-on-year by 9 per cent in 2024 to an estimated 1.43 million tonnes, according to the National Vintage Report 2024 released today by Wine Australia.

Vintage 2024 follows a 23-year low crush in 2023 and, despite the growth, this year’s crush is 300,000 tonnes below the 10-year average of 1.73 million tonnes (Figure 1). 

It is the third crush in the past five that has been below the 10-year average, causing the five-year average to drop by over 100,000 tonnes in the past two years and pointing to an overall declining trend. 

However, the reductions have been a result of seasonal factors and/or active crop reduction strategies, rather than any large-scale vineyard removals. Therefore, the potential for a large crop in future still exists, without active management of yields or vineyard restructuring.

Figure 1    Australian winegrape crush 2014–2024

Crush increase driven by whites

The increased tonnage compared with 2023 was entirely driven by white varieties, which increased by 117,338 tonnes (19 per cent) to 721,519 tonnes. Despite the 19 per cent increase, the white varieties crush was still 10 per cent below the 10-year average and the second smallest in 17 years. 

The increase in whites came almost entirely from the warm inland regions, which increased by 111,633 tonnes (a 24 per cent increase), while the white crush from other regions increased by 5,705 tonnes (4 per cent). 

The crush of red grapes declined by just under 5000 tonnes (1 per cent) to 705,000 tonnes, the smallest since the drought-affected 2007 vintage, and 40 per cent below its peak of 1.2 million tonnes in 2021. 

The net decrease of 1 per cent in the red crush was a result of a 7 per cent decline from the cool / temperate regions , partly offset by an increase of 3 per cent from the warm inland regions  (Figure 2).

Figure 2    Contributions to the change in crush by colour and location

The different results for red and white led to whites increasing their share of the crush from 46 per cent in 2023 to 51 per cent in 2024. It was the first time since 2014 that the white crush was higher than the red crush (Figure 3).

Figure 3    Winegrape crush by colour 2014–2024

Chardonnay returns to top spot while Shiraz drives red decline

Underpinning the increase in whites was a 31 per cent increase in Chardonnay, which was up by 79,234 tonnes to 332,643 tonnes. All other top 10 whites also increased, especially Pinot Gris/Grigio (up 27 per cent), Colombard (up 23 per cent) and Prosecco (up 22 per cent) – Figure 4.

Figure 4    Estimated crush of top 10 white varieties and year-on-year change

In the case of the reds, Shiraz declined by 47,36 tonnes (14 per cent) to 297,868 tonnes, its smallest crush since 2007 and 31 per cent below its 10-year average of 430,903 tonnes. Shiraz was the only one of the top 10 reds to decline at an overall national level (Figure 5).

Figure 5    Estimated crush of top 10 red varieties and year-on-year change

These changes saw Chardonnay overtake Shiraz to resume the title of largest variety by crush size that it last held in 2013, despite its crush being 8 per cent below its 10-year average of 359,925 tonnes and the third-smallest Chardonnay crush in the past 20 years.

Although seasonal factors contributed to the size and composition of the 2024 crush, the significant reduction in Shiraz specifically, across a number of regions, can be largely attributed to deliberate decisions made by grapegrowers and wine businesses, driven by low grape prices that in turn are due to significant red wine stock overhangs and reduced global demand for wine. 

Average values highlight changing preferences for top varieties

The grape crush value of the 2024 vintage is estimated to be $1.01 billion, a 2 per cent increase over the previous year. This was a result of the 9 per cent increase in the tonnage being offset by an overall decrease in the average value from $642 per tonne to $613 per tonne. This decrease was a combination of lower average values for reds and whites across the warm inland regions, a small overall increase for whites across the cool regions and an increase in the share of tonnes from warm inland regions in the mix, which have a lower average value (Table 1).

Table 1        Average value and year-on-year changes for grapes by source and colour

   

Average value ($/tonne)

Change in tonnes

Share of crush in 2023

Share of crush in 2024

   

2023

2024

Change in average value

Cool/temperate

Red

1585

1583

0%

-7%

21%

18%

 

White

1391

1436

3%

4%

10%

10%

Total

1523

1531

1%

-3%

31%

28%

Warm inland

Red

304

290

-5%

3%

33%

31%

 

White

399

379

-5%

24%

36%

41%

Total

357

345

-3%

14%

69%

72%

All regions

Total

642

613

-5%

9%

100%

100%

Looking at the two top varieties: the average price paid for Shiraz has fallen in both warm inland and cool / temperate regions over the past few years, but the decline has been steeper in the inland regions. 

The warm inland Shiraz price has fallen from $674/t in 2020 to $249/t in 2024 – a 63 per cent decline in four years. The average value in 2024 is lower than at any time previously recorded (at least as far back as 1999). 

For the cool / temperate regions over the same period, the average price paid for Shiraz has fallen 16 per cent from $1,800/t to $1,516/t, the lowest since 2017.

Conversely, the average value for Chardonnay across the warm inland regions has decreased by 8 per cent since 2020, from $402 per tonne to $372 per tonne. Despite the decrease, it is 49 per cent higher than the Shiraz average value for the warm inland regions, compared with 36 per cent higher in 2023 and 15 per cent higher in 2022. Prior to that, Chardonnay had not had a higher average value than Shiraz for at least the previous 12 years. 

Across the cool / temperate regions, Chardonnay reached a record average value of $1475 per tonne in 2024, up 6 per cent despite the higher crush and 25 per cent higher than in 2020. This was largely driven by increases in average value in Margaret River (up 6 per cent), Tasmania (up 12 per cent) and the Adelaide Hills (up 3 per cent) – the three largest cool / temperate regions for Chardonnay crush.

These results indicate stronger demand for Chardonnay than Shiraz, particularly in the warm inland regions. However, the decline in its average value in the warm inland regions despite its crush being one of the lowest in 20 years indicates that there is no current shortfall in supply.  

The National Vintage Report is available here. Vintage survey statistics, including regional winegrape pricing, are available on Wine Australia’s Vintage Survey dashboard. The Grape Price Indicators dashboard for inland regions has also been updated with the latest data. 

 


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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.