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THIS year’s winegrape harvest in the Murray Valley produced 10 per cent less fruit than last year’s vintage and suffered a drop in value of more than 20 per cent.

The 2014 Wine Grape Crush survey report released yesterday confirms a harvest of 413,627 tonnes worth $129m, compared with last year’s 458,614 tonnes valued at $165m.

Winery-grown fruit accounted for 83,000 tonnes, marginally down from 85,000 tonnes, whereas grapes purchased by wineries from growers fell by almost 44,000 to 330,000.

The result confirmed the Murray Valley’s position as Australia’s second-largest winegrape production zone.

Of the major varieties, Chardonnay retains top spot, contributing 105,000 tonnes to overall production followed by Shiraz on 79,000 tonnes. Other significant varieties included:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon (48,000 tonnes)
  • Merlot (33,000)
  • Pinot Gris (32,000)
  • Sauvignon Blanc (28,000)
  • Muscat Gordo Blanco (26,000)

The size of the national winegrape harvest is yet to be confirmed, but is expected to come in slightly below last year’s 1.8m tonnes.

The crush survey confirmed winegrape prices remain a source of despair for growers, with average prices for all major varieties, bar Pinot Gris, dropping significantly.

Chardonnay dropped the most (28%), followed by Gordo (27%), Shiraz (20%), Merlot (20%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (17%).

Pinot Gris held its own, unchanged from last year’s result.

“For many growers, grape prices fail to cover costs and more growers are expected to be forced out of the industry as a consequence,” Murray Valley Winegrowers (MVW) executive officer Mike Stone said.

“Alarmingly, in 2004, a harvest of 396,000 tonnes in the Murray-Darling and Swan Hill regions carried a value of $225m. This year’s 413,627 tonnes were worth $129m, 43 per cent less than the smaller harvest of 10 years ago.”

The annual crush survey was prepared by business advisory firm Crowe Horwath for the Murray Valley Wine Grape Industry Advisory Committee, which comprises grower and winery representatives.

Funding for the survey comes from grower levies paid to the Murray Valley Wine Grape Industry Development Committee.

For more information contact: Mike Stone

P: 61 (0)439 037 278