Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Australia became the world’s sixth biggest wine producer in 2005, producing 14.7 million hl/388 million gal of wine in 2004, but by 2013 production had fallen to 12.31 million hl/324 million gal and both Chile and China have been catching up. After a flurry of vineyard expansion in the 1990s, total vineyard area was almost 148,500 ha/367,000 acres in 2012, having declined slightly each year since 2007. The steady fall in vineyard area reflects the Australian wine industry’s painful reorientation away from inexpensive, mass-market wine to more upmarket bottlings in keeping with Australia’s relatively high production costs. Vines have been grubbed up in all regions, but mostly in the hotter, drier, water-dependent regions such as riverland and riverina. This was propelled by the drought that persisted for three seasons from 2007 when the cost of irrigation water hit heights that made viticulture unsustainable.