The Wine Australia-funded Vineyards Census 2014–15, by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, provides key insights into grape varieties, yields and water use in each of Australia’s 65 wine regions.
‘The importance of timely and accurate information to support informed decision making by grapegrowers and winemakers is a key plank of our Strategic Plan’, said Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark.
‘Winegrape businesses will be able to use the information from the Vineyards Census to better understand their business in relation to their region and other regions around the country’, he said.
The Vineyards Census shows that there has been a decline in vineyard plantings of 13,375 hectares over the three years since the last survey in 2012.
The mix of winegrapes grown has also changed. Red winegrape varieties now make up 64 per cent of the vineyard plantings (86,647 hectares) compared with 62 per cent in 2012.
The most planted red varieties are: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Grenache.
The most planted white varieties are: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Pinot Gris and Riesling.
Warm inland regions
Yields have increased in the warm inland regions of the Riverland, Riverina and Murray Darling/Swan Hill. In Riverina, yields have increased by 32 per cent compared with 2012.
However, there has been an overall decline in plantings of 4,521 hectares. The greatest decline in each of the three regions was plantings of Chardonnay.
In the Riverland, increasing yields have not resulted in a significant change in winemaking grape tonnes produced compared with 2012 because of the decline in plantings.
In Murray Darling/Swan Hill, plantings of Shiraz increased by 1 per cent and Semillon increased by 10 per cent, compared with 2012.
Cool and temperate regions
Overall, yields have marginally decreased in the cool and temperate regions of Australia. Of the 10 largest regions, 2 had an increase in yield compared with 2012, with Coonawarra up 2 per cent and Adelaide Hills up 44 per cent.
There is not a uniform movement in plantings in the cool and temperate regions. Overall, the number of hectares has declined by 11 per cent. In Tasmania, plantings have grown by 14 per cent to 1,505 hectares since 2012.
In Langhorne Creek, plantings increased by 6 per cent to 5,368 hectares, with an increase in Shiraz of 12 per cent and an increase in Cabernet Sauvignon of 14 per cent since 2012. There has also been a small increase in plantings of Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc in Langhorne Creek.
In McLaren Vale, there was growth in less common varieties such as Grenache, Mataro and Tempranillo and plantings of Shiraz also increased by 1 per cent.
This story was first published in Leading Agriculture magazine.