SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
Estimates from the Vineyards 2008 survey confirm that the 2008 harvest was significantly larger than 2007 as the industry recovered from adverse weather conditions experienced in the previous season. More favourable growing conditions resulted in a 28% increase in total grape production over the 2007 harvest, showing a return to previous levels.
AREA OF VINES
Grape growers cultivated 173 thousand hectares of vines, a 1% decrease from the 2007 season. The total bearing area for grapes rose slightly to 166 thousand hectares, while the area not yet bearing fell again, to 6.5 thousand hectares. Red grape varieties comprised 58% of the total area of vines and 59% of the total bearing area.
The estimate for total grape production in 2008 increased significantly from 2007 levels to 2.0 million tonnes. This was largely driven by a 38% increase in production in South Australia (the largest producing state) to 812 thousand tonnes. New South Wales was the next largest producing state with 554 thousand tonnes, while Victoria's production increased to 477 thousand tonnes.
Red grape production (1.0 million tonnes) was higher than white grape production (933 thousand tonnes). Reflecting the improved growing conditions of 2008, grape production for winemaking increased significantly (by 34%), to 1.8 million tonnes. Both drying and table grape production continued a downward trend in 2008. The production of grapes for drying fell by 31% to 56 thousand tonnes, while the harvest of table and other grapes fell by 19%, to 64 thousand tonnes.
South Australia remained the highest red grape-producing state with 50% (511 thousand tonnes) of total red grape production. New South Wales was the highest producer of white grapes with 33% (308 thousand tonnes) of total white grape production.
Three varieties of grapes accounted for 58% of all production: shiraz (442 thousand tonnes), chardonnay (428 thousand tonnes) and cabernet sauvignon (258 thosuand tonnes).