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Australian Vintage Report: A drier than average vintage followed by a wet April produced average yields and 'good, solid' reds with exceptional quality Eden Valley Rieslings. In 1978 there were 8,057 hectares of vines in the Barossa and 40,980 tonnes of wine grapes were crushed in that vintage.
The Barossa was now facing a serious glut of red grapes. In fact, a surplus of 21,400 tonnes of Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro and Cabernet Sauvignon existed in South Africa. Prices fell and wine growers had no choice but to leave the grapes on the vine to avoid the added cost of hand-picking. Winegrower-manager at Saltram, Peter Lehmann decided to honor his commitment to the winegrowers and offer them a little yield by taking their fruit, crushing it and making wine for sale.
Further east, the Shiraz muffin concept was launched to address the oversupply of red grapes in the Riverland and Sunraysia regions.
Growers have shown interest in new white varieties, particularly Chardonnay, and have adopted cost- and labor-saving technologies such as machine pruning. Experimental machine pruning has started at Seppelts (28 ha), Penfolds (16 ha), Rex Craker (10 ha), Orlando (60 ha).
The first decanter centrifuge was introduced, and wineries that still persisted in fortified winemaking faced a significant glut of brandy.