Coonawarra, Padthaway, Wrattonbully wine regions' 2017 Vintage seasons follow positive national trends

MIXED YEAR: Wrattonbully Wine Region Association chair Tim Fletcher said the season threw challenges at grapegrowers, but was positive overall.

MIXED YEAR: Wrattonbully Wine Region Association chair Tim Fletcher said the season threw challenges at grapegrowers, but was positive overall.

A national increase in crush and average purchase prices for the 2017 vintage has been reflected in some, but not all, of the South East’s wine regions.

The ‘National Vintage Report 2017’ was compiled and released on August 2 by Australian Vignerons, Wine Australia and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia.

It listed a third consecutive increase in the national crush, with 1.93 million tonnes, up five per cent from the 2016 vintage. The national purchase price also jumped by seven per cent to $565 per tonne, the highest since 2008. 

Australian Vignerons’ chief executive Andrew Weeks said the average purchase price rise was “a positive development for Australia’s winegrape growers”.

Wrattonbully’s reported harvest in 2017 was 27,374 tonnes, up from 23,606 in 2016. The region’s total value of grapes increased from $23 million to $28.5 million - credited to the increased tonnes crushed.

Wrattonbully Wine Region chair Tim Fletcher described the season as “mixed”.

“The cooler and wetter April and May period hindered harvest and did lead to quality decreases right at the end…just struggled to get the fruit to concentrate up,” Mr Fletcher said.

“But certainly the fruit that was picked earlier was very good quality.

“It was quite onerous on growers but in general it was a good year.”

The Padthaway region’s 2017 harvest was 41,142 tonnes, slightly down on the 2016 harvest of 44,922 tonnes but still 21 per cent above the five-year average. The estimated value of grapes fell from $38 million to $36 million, reflecting the lower crush figure.

Padthaway Grape Growers Association president Andrew Bryson was not concerned about the slight drop, saying the yields were up in 2016 on previous years, and the above-average crush in 2017 was good for the growers.

He credited the good yields in 2017 to seasonal conditions.

The Coonawarra’s 2017 crush total was 36,509 tonnes, which was up from 35,497 tonnes in 2016. It was also the largest crush recorded for the region in the past five years, and 16 per cent above its average for the same period.

The total value of grapes declined from $47 million to $41 million, due to lower average prices for the major red varieties.

Coonawarra Wine Region’s Pete Balnaves was pleased to see a slight increase in the region’s total crush this year. Speaking of the broader national report, Mr Balnaves said it was good to see an increase in demand.

“It’s showing that demand in China and the US is increasing, which is good for not only the Coonawarra, but the whole industry,” he said.

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