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1367.5 - Western Australian Statistical Indicators, Sep 2003  
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Feature Article - The Winemaking Industry in Western Australia

This article was published in the September quarter 2003 issue of Western Australian Statistical Indicators (ABS catalogue number 1367.5)


A BRIEF HISTORY OF WINEMAKING IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The winemaking industry in Western Australia began with the planting of grape vines by the English settlers of the Swan River Colony. After the first faltering attempts, 300 cuttings were successfully planted at Hamilton Hill and later moved to the foot of Mt Eliza (Kings Park). Within fifteen years of settlement, grape vines were planted in the Swan Valley, at Australind south of Perth and Toodyay to the east, with other early vineyards established at Katanning, Glen Forrest, Bakers Hill, Armadale, Vasse and New Norcia. The prospects for winemaking were considered promising and in 1834 the first Western Australian wine was produced. By 1895 the Swan Valley, Toodyay, York and areas around Guildford and Fremantle were established winemaking centres, although a lack of consumers kept production on a small scale with just 240 hectares of vines producing 225,000 litres of wine.

The discovery of gold boosted the Western Australian population and caused rapid growth in wine production to 837,000 litres by 1905. In the 1930s, production concentrated on fortified wines, ports, muscats and sherries. The wine industry in Western Australia continued to grow despite the Depression and by 1948 the area of vines exceeded 4,000 hectares. The price of wool increased dramatically in the 1950s and many farmers in the Great Southern and South West of Western Australia abandoned their vines for sheep. Around this time, the emphasis on fortified wine production was brought into question and table wines were seen as the future of the winemaking industry. Attention was focused on the cooler regions in the south, such as Margaret River, Mt Barker - Frankland and Manjimup-Pemberton, where climate and soil conditions were considered highly favourable for the production of light, dry table wines. The birth of the Margaret River wine region occurred at a well-attended public meeting in Busselton in July 1966.

The winemaking industry in Western Australia today is a small but important contributor to the national wine industry, being recognised internationally as a producer of premium and ultra-premium wines. The industry is characterised by small family owned and operated businesses (commonly referred to as boutique wineries) which have established niche markets in Australia and overseas.


STRUCTURE OF THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN WINEMAKING INDUSTRY

There were 78 winemaking locations in Western Australia in 2002, representing one fifth of all locations in Australia, but accounting for just 3.4% of the national grape crush. The majority (62.8%) of Western Australia's winemaking locations were relatively small in size, crushing between 50-400 tonnes of grapes.

An alternative view of the Western Australian grape-growing and wine production industries is available from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. According to the Census, there were 1,568 persons whose main job was in the manufacturing or blending of wine and 1,660 persons whose main job was in grape-growing in 2001. This excluded casual workers, such as grape pickers and other seasonal workers, not working in those industries in the week prior to the Census. It also excluded people who worked in grape-growing and wine production as a second job.



EMPLOYMENT IN THE GRAPE-GROWING AND WINEMAKING INDUSTRIES, Western Australia, 1996-2001
Grape-growing
Wine production
Total
1996
2001
Change(a)
1996
2001
Change(a)
1996
2001
Change(a)
no.
no.
%
no.
no.
%
no.
no.
%

Employee
456
1,147
112.1
714
1,335
87.0
1,170
2,482
112.1
Employer
50
194
310.0
30
134
346.7
80
328
310.0
Own account worker
145
295
128.6
23
89
287.0
168
384
128.6
Contributing family worker
15
24
70.0
5
10
100.0
20
34
70.0
Total(b)
666
1,660
124.5
772
1,568
103.1
1,438
3,228
124.5
Part-time
221
496
101.6
226
405
79.2
447
901
101.6
Full-time
438
1,132
132.6
542
1,147
111.6
980
2,279
132.6
Total(b)
666
1,660
124.5
772
1,568
103.1
1,438
3,228
124.5

(a) Change from 1996 to 2001.
(b) Includes a small number of persons who did not report employment status.
Source: ABS data available on request, Census of Population and Housing.


The total number of Western Australians whose main job was in grape-growing or wine production increased by 124.5% between 1996 and 2001. During this period, the number of employers in both grape-growing and wine production more than tripled (increasing by 310.0% and 346.7% respectively), while the total number of employees in the two industries more than doubled (increasing by 112.0%). In 2001, over 70% of persons working in Western Australia's grape-growing and wine production industries worked full-time - up from 68% in 1996.


WESTERN AUSTRALIA'S WINE-PRODUCING REGIONS

The wine-producing regions of Western Australia are defined by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Act which sets out wine zones, regions and sub-regions based on Australian Geographical Indications. There are five wine zones in Western Australia - Greater Perth, Central Western Australia, South West Australia, West Australian South East Coastal and Eastern Plains, Inland and North of Western Australia. These zones are further broken down into nine regions - Perth Hills, Swan District, Blackwood Valley, Geographe, Great Southern, Manjimup (proposed), Margaret River, Pemberton (proposed) and Peel, which are the focus of this article.

WINE ZONES OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Map of wine zones in Western Australia



FACTORS AFFECTING WINEMAKING

There are many factors which influence winemaking activity. Wine is an agricultural product that is vulnerable to the forces of nature and the resulting seasons and weather. Unforeseen events such as the recent drought can have a dramatic effect on the winegrape harvest. The nature of the wine production cycle means that there is a lag of four to six years between the planting of vines and the production of wine from those vines. Despite careful planning, this can lead to periods of shortage and surplus as suppliers try to predict and match future demand. Together with the changing preferences of wine consumers, this makes it difficult for winemakers to make successful production decisions. External forces such as the state of local and overseas economies, changes to legislation and regulations
and changes in market structure can also influence the success or failure of winemakers.


VINES AND GRAPE PRODUCTION

Season 2002 was described by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (AWBC) as challenging for Western Australia's winegrape growers, with below average temperatures throughout the growing season and water restrictions limiting irrigation during summer. Harvest was delayed due to cool and wet spring weather, but the long, mild and dry summer provided favourable ripening conditions, resulting in high quality fruit with excellent flavour concentration.

The total area of vineyards cultivated in Western Australia in season 2002 was 11,381 hectares, an increase of 4.2% on season 2001. The total area of vines planted to white grape varieties increased by 5.2% while the total area planted to red grape varieties increased by 3.7%.

Grape production for winemaking rose by 3.3% to 63,559 tonnes in season 2002. The increase was entirely due to a rise in the production of red grapes for winemaking, up by 13.4%, while the production of white grapes for winemaking fell by 7.8%. The major grape varieties produced for winemaking in season 2002 were Cabernet sauvignon (14,080 tonnes produced), Shiraz (13,718 tonnes), Chardonnay (8,444 tonnes), Semillon (6,029 tonnes), Sauvignon blanc (5,948 tonnes) and Merlot (5,613 tonnes).

Despite an increase in the volume of grapes produced, the gross value of grape production in Western Australia in 2001-02 was 5.0% lower than in the previous year (down from $102.2 million to $97.1 million) - partly reflecting a decrease in the price paid for wine grapes. Over the five years to 2001-02, however, the value of Western Australia's grape production almost tripled (increasing by 194.2%). During this period, the value of grape production as a proportion of the total value of agricultural commodities produced in Western Australia increased from 0.8% to 1.8%.

VALUE OF GRAPES PRODUCED, Western Australia, Share of gross value of total agricultural commodities produced
Graph - Value of grapes produced in Western Australia as a proportion of the gross value of total agricultural commodities produced
Source: Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia (cat. no. 7503.0).


The principal wine-producing area in Western Australia is the South West Australia wine zone which accounted for 80.9% (9,208 hectares) of the total area of vines and 86.2% (54,804 tonnes) of the total grape production for winemaking in season 2002. In contrast, the Eastern Plains, Inland and North of Western Australia zone contributed 0.6% (72 hectares) of the total area of vines and 0.02% (15 tonnes) of the total grape production for winemaking in season 2002.

Despite being the principal wine-producing area in the state, South West Australia experienced the smallest growth in total area of vines (2.8%) in season 2002. The largest growth in the total area of vines occurred in the smallest wine-producing area of Eastern Plains, Inland and North of Western Australia, up by 67.4% from season 2001. Central Western Australia was the only wine zone to record a fall in the total area of vines in season 2002, down by 4.6%.

West Australian South East Coastal experienced the largest increase in grape production for winemaking, rising by 99.3% from 304 tonnes in season 2001 to 606 tonnes in season 2002. Eastern Plains, Inland and North of Western Australia, Central Western Australia and Greater Perth zones all recorded falls in grape production for winemaking, down by 71.1%, 37.4% and 9.6% respectively from season 2001.

AREA AND PRODUCTION OF GRAPES(a) BY AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS, Western Australia
Total area of vines
Grape production for winemaking(b)
2001
2002
Change(c)
2001
2002
Change(c)
Wine zone
ha
ha
%
tonnes
tonnes
%

GREATER PERTH
Total red grapes
884
1,018
15.2
2,800
2,906
3.8
Total white grapes
805
837
4.0
6,032
5,076
-15.8
Total
1,689
1,855
9.8
8,832
7,982
-9.6

CENTRAL WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Total red grapes
67
61
-9.0
94
61
-35.1
Total white grapes
41
43
4.9
148
90
-39.2
Total
108
103
-4.6
243
152
-37.4

SOUTH WEST AUSTRALIA
Total red grapes
5,720
5,804
1.5
29,117
33,161
13.9
Total white grapes
3,234
3,403
5.2
22,990
21,643
-5.9
Total
8,955
9,208
2.8
52,107
54,804
5.2

WEST AUSTRALIAN SOUTH EAST COASTAL
Total red grapes
85
96
12.9
169
383
126.6
Total white grapes
37
46
24.3
135
223
65.2
Total
122
142
16.4
304
606
99.3

EASTERN PLAINS, INLAND AND NORTH OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Total red grapes
34
60
76.5
35
12
-65.7
Total white grapes
9
13
44.4
16
4
-75.0
Total
43
72
67.4
52
15
-71.1

TOTAL WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Total red grapes
6,790
7,039
3.7
32,216
36,524
13.4
Total white grapes
4,126
4,342
5.2
29,321
27,036
-7.8
Total
10,917
11,381
4.2
61,537
63,559
3.3

(a) At harvest.
(b) Fresh weight.
(c) Change from 2001 to 2002.
Source: Australian Wine and Grape Industry (cat. no. 1329.0).


GRAPE CRUSH

A total of 51,246 tonnes of winegrapes were crushed in Western Australia for vintage 2002, down by 1.4% from vintage 2001. Total red grapes crushed rose by 9.9% to 28,538 tonnes for vintage 2002, driven by increases in the crushes of the red grape varieties of Merlot, up by 24.3%; Cabernet sauvignon, up by 14.2%; and Shiraz, up by 12.9%. Falls in the crushes of the white grape varieties of Chardonnay, down by 27.2%; Chenin blanc, down by 26.0%; and Verdelho, down by 24.4% contributed to a decrease of 12.7% in total white grapes crushed to 22,709 tonnes for vintage 2002.

The Margaret River wine region accounted for 44.4% (12,661 tonnes) of total red grapes crushed and 42.9% (9,749 tonnes) of total white grapes crushed in Western Australia for vintage 2002, and contributed 43.7% (22,410 tonnes) of total winegrapes crushed in the state. The Great Southern region accounted for a further 20.7% of total winegrapes crushed.

The Geographe wine region recorded the largest growth in total winegrapes crushed for vintage 2002, up by 118.3% to 5,055 tonnes. This large increase was driven by a rise of 134.6% in total red grapes crushed. Blackwood Valley also experienced a large increase in total winegrapes crushed for vintage 2002, up by 73.7% to 1,725 tonnes, driven by almost equal increases in total red grapes crushed (75.5%) and total white grapes crushed (71.1%). Several wine regions recorded falls in total winegrapes crushed for vintage 2002, the largest of these being a decrease of 48.7% in the Manjimup region. Other regions to record falls
were Swan District, down by 25.2%; Pemberton, down by 18.3%; and Great Southern, down by 7.4%.

According to estimates from the Australian Regional Winegrape Crush Survey, the immediate future of the Western Australian wine industry appears positive, with the state's total winegrape crush expected to grow by 19.7% to 61,336 tonnes over the next five years. Total white grapes crushed are expected to increase by 23.3% and total red grapes crushed are also forecast to rise by 16.8% over the five years to 2007. The Manjimup region is expected to be the area of largest growth, with the total winegrape crush forecast to rise by 192.7%. Other regions expected to experience increases in total winegrapes crushed are Margaret River (40.6%), Swan District (34.3%), Pemberton (15.3%) and Great Southern (0.2%).

WINEGRAPE CRUSH BY AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS, Western Australia
Total winegrape crush(a)
Estimated winegrape crush(b)
2001
2002
Change
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
Wine region
tonnes
tonnes
%
tonnes
tonnes
tonnes
tonnes
tonnes

PERTH HILLS
Total red grapes
398
556
39.7
556
242
254
256
257
Total white grapes
287
373
30.0
348
141
148
150
150
Total
685
928
35.5
905
383
402
405
407

SWAN DISTRICT
Total red grapes
1,591
1,217
-23.5
1,420
1,606
1,810
2,001
2,169
Total white grapes
4,639
3,441
-25.8
3,547
3,779
4,051
4,281
4,086
Total
6,230
4,658
-25.2
4,967
5,384
5,861
6,282
6,255

BLACKWOOD VALLEY
Total red grapes
560
983
75.5
858
990
1,111
1,083
1,058
Total white grapes
433
741
71.1
463
490
482
492
456
Total
993
1,725
73.7
1,321
1,480
1,593
1,575
1,514

GEOGRAPHE
Total red grapes
1,469
3,447
134.6
2,495
2,244
1,931
1,672
1,675
Total white grapes
848
1,608
89.6
1,301
1,265
1,106
1,072
1,072
Total
2,316
5,055
118.3
3,796
3,509
3,037
2,744
2,747

GREAT SOUTHERN
Total red grapes
6,856
6,484
-5.4
8,625
9,264
6,023
6,229
6,293
Total white grapes
4,580
4,109
-10.3
5,663
6,101
3,996
4,183
4,326
Total
11,435
10,594
-7.4
14,288
15,364
10,019
10,412
10,619

MARGARET RIVER
Total red grapes
10,670
12,661
18.7
16,491
17,826
18,214
17,804
17,642
Total white grapes
11,196
9,749
-12.9
12,554
13,330
14,047
13,820
13,869
Total
21,867
22,410
2.5
29,046
31,157
32,261
31,624
31,511

MANJIMUP
Total red grapes
1,177
567
-51.8
490
579
783
1,011
1,623
Total white grapes
742
417
-43.8
406
455
694
1,042
1,257
Total
1,918
984
-48.7
896
1,034
1,477
2,053
2,880

PEMBERTON
Total red grapes
2,644
2,409
-8.9
2,586
2,677
2,723
2,598
2,457
Total white grapes
2,706
1,962
-27.5
2,594
2,752
2,723
2,721
2,583
Total
5,350
4,371
-18.3
5,180
5,429
5,446
5,319
5,040

WESTERN AUSTRALIA - OTHER
Total red grapes
603
213
-64.7
201
218
234
234
155
Total white grapes
587
309
-47.4
280
286
294
264
209
Total
1,190
522
-56.1
481
504
528
498
364

TOTAL WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Total red grapes
25,968
28,538
9.9
33,722
35,646
33,082
32,886
33,327
Total white grapes
26,017
22,709
-12.7
27,157
28,599
27,541
28,025
28,008
Total
51,985
51,246
-1.4
60,879
62,244
60,623
60,911
61,336

(a) Includes tonnages crushed that were grown in winery-owned vineyards and purchased from independent grape growers, other wineries and agents.
(b) Includes tonnages expected to be sourced from the winemaker's vineyards in each year of the five year projection period and tonnages expected to be purchased by the winemaker in each year of the five year projection period, taking into account contracted fruit and expectations of what may be purchased on the spot market.
Source: Australian Regional Winegrape Crush Survey Online: http://www.awbc.com.au/ARWCS/default.asp


WINE PRODUCTION

Vintage 2002 was described by the AWBC as an excellent vintage for Western Australian wine and the best year for whites for some time. White wines were reported as demonstrating exceptional fruit characteristics and good natural acid balance. Red wines were also reported to be of high quality and showing excellent promise.

Western Australia produced 39.1 million litres of beverage wine in 2001-02, an increase of 5.2% on 2000-01. Production of unfortified wine rose by 5.3% to 39.1 million litres, accounting for almost 100.0% of total beverage wine production. Fortified wine production, however, fell by 60.0% to just 10,000 litres.

Beverage wine production in Western Australia more than tripled over the five years from 1997-98 to 2001-02, increasing by 207.6% from 12.7 million litres in 1997-98 to 39.1 million litres in 2001-02. Production of unfortified wine increased by 208.1% over the five year period and its share of total beverage wine production increased slightly from 99.8% in 1997-98 to almost 100.0% in 2001-02. Fortified wine production decreased by 66.7% over the five year period while its share of total beverage wine production fell from 0.2% in 1997-98 to just 0.03% in 2001-02.

WINE PRODUCTION, Western Australia(a), 1997-98 to 2001-02
1997-98
1998-99
1999-00
2000-01
2001-02
Change(b)
Wine type
'000 L
'000 L
'000 L
'000 L
'000 L
%

Beverage wine
    Fortified(c)
30
7
11
25
10
-66.7
    Unfortified(d)
12,692
20,166
22,189
37,154
39,108
208.1
Gross total wine
12,722
20,173
22,200
37,178
39,118
207.5
Net total wine(e)
12,717
20,171
22,199
39,108
39,116
207.6

(a) Production by winemakers crushing more than 400 tonnes annually or with sales of more than 250,000 litres.
(b) Change from 1997-98 to 2001-02.
(c) Relates only to production from unfortified wine of the same vintage.
(d) For manufacturing brandy and grape spirit. Includes wine obtained from marc.
(e) Excludes grape spirit used for fortifying (assumes 95.6% alcohol by volume).
Source: ABS data available on request, Wine and Spirit Production Survey.


Western Australia's share of total Australian wine production grew by an average of 16.0% per year from 1997-98 to 2001-02. Wine produced in Western Australia accounted for 1.9% of total Australian wine production in 1997-98, before rising to a high of 3.6% in 2000-01. Western Australia contributed 3.3% of wine produced nationally in 2001-02.

WINE PRODUCTION, Western Australia, Proportion of total Australian production
Graph - Wine production in Western Australia as a proportion of total Australian production
Source: ABS data available on request, Wine and Spirit Production Survey.


WINE EXPORTS

Exports of wine from Western Australia experienced significant growth over the five year period from 1998-99 to 2002-03. Total wine exported from Western Australia increased by 298.2% from 1.3 million litres in 1998-99 to 5.0 million litres in 2002-03, representing an average annual growth rate of 42.6%. The growth in exports was driven by exports of table wine, which increased by 305.2% from 1.2 million litres in 1998-99 to 4.9 million litres in 2002-03. Exports of table wine accounted for 96.9% of total wine exported from Western Australia in 2002-03.

Despite the strong growth in the quantity and value of wine exported from Western Australia between 1998-99 and 2002-03, the average dollar-per-litre value decreased by 16.7% over the same period, from $10.77 in 1998-99 to $8.97 in 2002-03. The movements in average dollar-per-litre value reflect recent economic conditions and in particular, the strength of the Australian dollar.

EXPORTS OF WINE, Western Australia, 1998-99 to 2002-03
Wine type
Total wine
White table
Red/rose table
Total table
All other wine(a)
Quantity
Value
Average dollar-per-litre value(b)
Period
'000 L
'000 L
'000 L
'000 L
'000 L
$'000
$

1998-99
609
599
1,208
27
1,269
13,672
10.77
1999-00
865
966
1,832
61
1,893
18,742
9.90
2000-01
1,610
1,538
3,148
108
3,258
28,161
8.64
2001-02
1,923
1,878
3,801
116
3,917
36,682
9.36
2002-03
1,892
3,003
4,895
159
5,054
45,353
8.97

(a) All other wine includes fortified, sparkling and other wine.
(b) Total value divided by total quantity.
Source: ABS data available on request, International Trade database.


Over the five years from 1998-99 to 2002-03, the volume of wine exported from Western Australia accounted for an increasing share of the total volume of wine exported from Australia, rising from 0.6% in 1998-99 to 1.0% in 2002-03. This represented an average annual growth rate of 15.2% over the five year period.

EXPORTS OF WINE, Western Australia, Proportion of the total volume of wine exported from Australia
Graph - Exports of wine from Western Australia as a proportion of the total volume of wine exported from Australia
Source: ABS data available on request, International Trade database.


The United Kingdom was the major country of destination for Western Australia's wine exports in 2002-03, having received 1.7 million litres of wine, valued at $14.3 million. Exports to the United Kingdom accounted for 33.3% of the quantity of total wine exported from Western Australia in 2002-03. Other significant export markets for wine from Western Australia in 2002-03 were the United States of America and New Zealand, having accounted for 22.2% and 8.5% respectively of the quantity of wine exported in 2002-03.

Over the five years from 1998-99 to 2002-03, Western Australia's largest growing export market for wine was New Zealand. The quantity of wine exported to New Zealand increased from 7,000 litres in 1998-99 to 431,000 litres in 2002-03. Other destinations to record large growth in the quantity of wine received from Western Australia over the period 1998-99 to 2002-03 were Canada, which rose from 26,000 litres in 1998-99 to 207,000 litres in 2002-03; and Ireland, which increased from 16,000 litres in 1998-99 to 121,000 litres in 2002-03.

TOP 10 DESTINATIONS FOR WINE EXPORTS, Western Australia, 1998-99 to 2002-03(a)
1998-99
1999-00
2000-01
2001-02
2002-03
Quantity
Value
Quantity
Value
Quantity
Value
Quantity
Value
Quantity
Value
Country of destination
'000 L
$'000
'000 L
$'000
'000 L
$'000
'000 L
$'000
'000 L
$'000

United Kingdom
486
4,992
718
5,962
675
6,864
1,223
12,184
1,681
14,302
Unites States of America
249
2,508
377
3,471
667
7,707
830
9,449
1,123
11,828
New Zealand
7
71
14
133
36
371
128
789
431
2,078
Singapore
85
1,254
94
1,485
544
2,107
172
2,199
208
2,252
Canada
26
281
44
456
67
761
118
1,271
207
2,149
Germany
29
484
42
609
130
820
456
988
179
1,323
Denmark
35
342
29
292
29
320
53
642
154
1,203
Japan
91
1,021
117
1,309
108
1,383
131
1,489
151
1,571
Ireland
16
190
28
338
62
566
48
512
121
953
Hong Kong
35
392
64
585
77
850
110
1,031
117
1,072
Total exports
1,269
13,672
1,893
18,742
3,258
28,161
3,917
36,682
5,054
45,353

(a) Destinations ranked by quantity of wine received in 2002-03.
Source: ABS data available on request, International Trade database.


CONCLUSION

The winemaking industry in Western Australia has grown from humble beginnings to become an increasingly important industry for the state. Vineyards and wineries together with their value-added features such as restaurants make vital contributions to regional economic development through investment, employment and tourism. Although the Western Australian industry is a small contributor to the Australian winemaking industry, it is recognised as a significant producer of premium and ultra-premium wines. The industry has experienced significant increases in wine production and exports over the last five years and is one of the fastest growing winemaking industries in the country.


REFERENCES

ABS 2003, Australian Wine and Grape Industry 2002, cat. no. 1329.0, ABS, Canberra.

Australian Regional Winegrape Crush Survey Online: http://www.awbc.com.au/ARWCS/default.asp

Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation 2002, '2002 Vintage Reports: Western Australia', Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation 2001-2002 Annual Report, pp. 123-126.

Tolley, Sam 2003, 'From the Chief Executive's desk...', The Wine Contact, June 2003, pp. 1.

Zekulich, M 1990, Wine and Wineries of the West, St George Books, Perth.



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