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At a glance summary
The Australian winegrape crush was 1.79 million tonnes – a decrease of 10 per cent from the record 2017 harvest.
The crush was just above the long-term average of 1.76 million tonnes
The average purchase price across all varieties increased 8 per cent to $609 per tonne – the highest since 2008.
Average winegrape purchase prices paid increased across the board:The average for red varieties increased by 11 per cent to $768 per tonne and,
The average for white varieties grew by 5 per cent to $444 per tonne.
The total estimated value of the crush decreased by 3 per cent to $1.11 billion due to lower tonnages partially offset by higher average prices.
Red varieties overall decreased by 15 per cent in tonnage while white varieties decreased by 4 per cent, leading to a reduction in the red share from 55 per cent to 52 per cent of the crush, in line with the three-year average.
Shiraz tonnes crushed decreased by 17 per cent, Cabernet Sauvignon by 14 per cent and Merlot by 19 per cent.
Chardonnay was the only major variety to go against the trend, increasing by 9 per cent and restoring its share of the white crush to 47 per cent.
The crush in cool/temperate regions decreased by 20 per cent overall, while warm regions decreased by5 per cent and increased their share of the overall crush to 72 per cent.
The proportion of winery-grown fruit decreased from 33 per cent of the crush in 2017 to 31 per cent in 2018.
2018 Barossa vintage one to savour
Barossa 2018 vintage wrapped up at the end of April 2018, with grape growers and winemakers happy with a high-quality vintage and good yields.
“Flavours and colours in reds are wonderful, and natural acids in the Eden Valley whites surprisingly high, with early standout varieties this year including Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet”, said Yalumba head of winemaking Louisa Rose.
The growing season started off well, with Winter 2017 rainfall around 10% higher than average. However, Spring rainfall was only 78% of average in Barossa Valley (BV) and 98% in Eden Valley (EV), and December rainfall was only 57% of average in BV (88% in EV).
Drier soils, combined with warmer than average October and November days (October 2ºC above average in BV (1.8 ºC in EV) and November 1.1ºC above average in BV (1.6 ºC in EV), meant the vine canopies grew quickly; flowering well and setting a good number of bunches.
January and February were warm and dry, with very warm temperatures in February slowing down the pace of ripening. January was slightly above average (1.4ºC during the day but closer to average at night) and February was about average during the day, but with significantly warmer than average night time temperatures in Barossa Valley (5.8ºC warmer).
With summer rainfall 50% of average, growers with access to water, soil moisture monitoring, good irrigation management and healthy soils experienced less stress – and subsequently delivered sound fruit and consistent yields.
The Indian summer of March and early April was ‘the icing on the cake’, with average temperatures, without extremes, perfect for finishing off vintage. The 28-30mm of rain on 14/15 April did not cause any major problems for picking – and was a welcome post-harvest watering for most Barossa growers.
Overall, in 2018, Barossa Valley crushed 56,970 tonnes*, down 22% from the 2017 vintage but 9% above the five-year average. In 2018, Eden Valley crushed 11,593 tonnes*, down 3% from 2017.
The total Barossa crush of 68,563 tonnes* contributed 9% of the total volume and 25% of the total value of the South Australian crush.
Average prices for Barossa Valley varieties remained steady in 2018, with Shiraz at $2252 per tonne 1% down on last year. In Eden Valley, the average price for Shiraz increased 11% to $2636 per tonne and Cabernet Sauvignon increased 15% to $2354.
*Wine Australia estimates the SA Winegrape crush response rate is 85%, so the actual total Barossa crush is estimated at 75,000 to 80,000 tonnes.