Massive vintage for Riverina grape growers

A massive 300,000 tonne winegrape crop in the Riverina has prompted industry leaders to call for greater promotion of the region to help growers achieve sustainable costs of production.

The Riverina Winemakers Association confirmed that the vintage was just 8000 tonnes short of the record harvest achieved in 2009 and the production of red grapes reached a new high of 136,000 tonnes.

Association president, Les Worland said the absence of floods and rain, which were experienced last year, helped growers to produce large mounts of good quality fruit.

Chardonnay was the weak link coming in at 54,000 tonnes, which was less than the 9000 last year.

Mr Worland said the big vintage was good news for the region however many players were still doing it tough.

Winegrapes Marketing Board chief executive officer, Brian Simpson said despite the near-record year 50 per cent of growers had not met the basic costs of production for 2013.

He said when the big picture was taken into account the yields were not as impressive.

“Based on a normal yield of say 14 tonnes a hectare, this region should be producing 320,000 tonnes or more,” he said.

“Regions such as the South Australian Riverland Chardonnay region average yields of 24.8 tonnes per hectare (we) were half of that,” Mr Simpson said.

He said the challenge now was for the region to promote its wine industry to allow market strength to return.

“Growers also need to be able to talk prices with their wineries, in the past we have seen a decline in returns and a lengthening of the payment terms to growers,” he said.

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