|Page tools: Print Page Print All|
Feature Article - The Winemaking Industry in Western Australia
EMPLOYMENT IN THE GRAPE-GROWING AND WINEMAKING INDUSTRIES, Western Australia, 1996-2001
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
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
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
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
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
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
Source: ABS data available on request, Wine and Spirit Production Survey.
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
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
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)
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.
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.
These documents will be presented in a new window.