In short:

Wine Australia’s latest National Vintage Report shows Australia’s overall wine grape crush climbed by 9 per cent in 2024.

In the past year more chardonnay grapes were crushed nationwide than any other variety.

It’s the first time in a decade that white grape crush has surpassed red.

More chardonnay grapes were crushed across Australia in the past year than any other variety, pushing the country’s white grape crush ahead of red for the first time in a decade.

Wine Australia’s latest National Vintage Report for 2024 shows Australia’s overall wine grape crush climbed by 9 per cent in 2024 to 1.43 million tonnes, but still remained well below the decade average.

Wine Australia’s market insights manager Peter Bailey said while more white grapes were crushed, it was still the second smallest volume in 17 years.

Chardonnay grapes are also the grape of choice for most sparkling wines. (Clint Jasper)

“The red crush declined by about 5,000 tonnes, whereas the white crush increased by 117,000 tonnes — but the white crush is still well below the 10-year average,” Mr Bailey said.

“Chardonnay was the number one white and overall variety — [its] tonnes increased by 31 per cent over the year, which overtook shiraz to take the title of the largest variety by crush, which it last held in 2013.”

He said that was down to both consumer preference, and a rebound from a very low vintage in 2023.

In contrast, the amount of shiraz grapes crushed dropped by 14 per cent to its lowest levels since 2007 as prices for those grapes fell nationally.

“If you take the Riverland — that’s the biggest producing region for shiraz in Australia and that’s probably where the impact has been most severe — the Riverland shiraz crush fell by 22,000 tonnes in 2024,” Mr Bailey said.

“I think it reflects where demand is at the moment globally for wine and particularly for some of the red varieties, and we’re seeing declines in the consumption of wine across the globe, so that’s really having a flow-on effect to our national crush.”

Some regions on the rise

But the results were not all bad news for red wine producers.

Owner of Patrick of Coonawarra, Luke Tocaciu, says seasonal conditions in Coonawarra were much better than in 2023. (ABC South East SA: Elsie Adamo)

While the crush rates from many regions in Australia’s largest producing state, South Australia, shrank this year, some were able to improve their results.

In Coonawarra, in the state’s South East, crush volume and value both jumped by over 30 per cent.

While Coonawarra has been traditionally known for red wine, according to Coonawarra Vignerons vice-president and owner of Patrick of Coonawarra, Luke Tocaciu, a combination of improved seasonal conditions and a strong reputation led to a positive vintage.

“We saw a lot of buyers come back into the market, especially towards the end [of vintage],” he said.

“Most other regions had significant losses from the heat damage, and we were fortunately able to mitigate most of that.”

Bruce Gregory, senior winemaker for Majella in Coonawarra, says there has still been strong demand for the region’s cabernet sauvignon.(ABC South East SA: Elsie Adamo)

Senior winemaker with Majella Wines, Bruce Gregory, has been making wine in the region for decades.

He said it is clear trends have been changing.

“They really want our riesling and rosé, we’re actually sold out of those two at the moment,” Mr Gregory said.

“That is always a hard thing to manage … it will swing around I’m sure over a period of time.”

Record crush for Tasmania

Wine Tasmania’s Sheralee Davies says the island state’s cool climate grapes are sought after.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Tasmania’s wine industry showed huge gains with a record-breaking wine grape crush, up 42 per cent compared to the year before.

Wine Tasmania’s Sheralee Davies said the state’s vineyards not only achieved record breaking tonnage, they also achieved record-breaking prices.

“Twenty-seven per cent of recorded wine grape tonnages sold [from Tasmania] were above $4,000 a tonne which is a record,” she said.

“Tasmania secures some of the highest prices in the country for its wine grapes and bottled wine due to the very high quality and strong demand.”