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How the wine sector has changed since 2011

Market Bulletin | Issue 89

12 Dec 2017
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The changing demographics in the grape and wine sector have been revealed in the latest information from the ABS. The 2016 census shows that women’s participation has increased and the workforce is ageing; there was a record 11 female and 4 male grape growers over the age of 90.

When we reflect on some of the notable events from 2011 – the Japanese tsunami and nuclear disasters, the Christchurch earthquake, cyclone Yasi, the deaths of Osama bin Laden, Kim Jong Il, Steve Jobs and Amy Winehouse, and the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton – it seems a long time ago.

It was the year the iPhone 4 was released and the Reserve Bank cut interest rates to 4.5 per cent. The Australian dollar finished the year at US$1.02 – having spent most of the year close to parity. The grape harvest was a moderate 1.6 million tonnes and wine exports fell to 731 million litres at the beginning of a 5-year decline.

The wine sector in 2011

According to the 2011 census, there were around 22,000 people employed in wine manufacturing and grape growing occupations. Wine manufacturing accounted for 53 per cent of beverage manufacturing in terms of employment numbers, and women made up 35 per cent of the workforce. In grape growing, 28 per cent of employees[1] were female.

Changes to 2016

The 2016 census figures reflect the difficulties faced by the sector in the intervening years. Total employment in wine manufacturing and grape growing occupations fell 7 per cent overall. Grape growing bore the brunt of the decline, with employment down 17 per cent and grape growing falling from 30 per cent of all fruit-growing employment to 24 per cent. At the same time, fruit and tree nut growing increasing its share of all fruit-growing employment from 14 per cent to 20 per cent.

In wine manufacturing, although total employment is down by 1 per cent, its share of total beverage manufacturing has increased to 55 per cent, at the expense of soft drink manufacturing. The proportion of women employed in wine manufacturing has increased from 35 per cent to 38 per cent, and is above the overall average for beverage manufacturing (34 per cent) and for all manufacturing (28 per cent). Female employment has increased across all occupational categories in wine manufacturing (see figure 1).

On the other hand, in grape growing, the decline in employment since 2011 has been greater for women (19 per cent) than for men (16 per cent), while overall employment of women in the wine sector is still well below 50 per cent. In leadership and senior roles, female representation has been estimated at 8–10 per cent, meaning there is still a long way to go for the sector to reflect the broader population.


Another trend of note has been the increase in the average age of the workforce. Figure 2 shows the average age for men and women in grape growing and wine manufacturing across the two census years. The average age of female grape growers is higher than for male growers, while female winemakers are on average younger than their male counterparts.

Looking ahead

If these trends continue, we can expect to see further growth in female representation and addressing the ageing workforce will be the major challenge.

More detailed information is available on request. Contact the Market Insights team on 8228 2000 or

[1] Including owners

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

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Non-levy payers/exporters
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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.