In its annual vintage survey, the Winemakers' Federation of Australia estimated that the 2013 vintage overall increased by 11% compared with 2012, and was the highest since 2008 at 1.83 million tonnes in total. This intake was 100,000 tonnes above the average for the past six years of 1.73 million tonnes and 170,000 tonnes higher than the 2102 crush of 1.66 million tonnes.
The increased crop is attributable to an absence of major events such as disease or flooding which affected the previous vintages, as well as the availability of sufficient water for irrigation. In the warm inland regions, conditions were generally good for growing - despite the heat. Conditions early in the season are thought to have contributed to a good growing season. 2013 could not be described as an 'easy' vintage. The Bureau of Meteorology reported that the 2013 summer had been the hottest on record and it was also one of the driest. In addition to heatwaves across south-eastern Australia, there were bushfires in the southern parts of SA and Victoria and very heavy rains along the coast, and extending some way inland, from south-east Queensland almost to Sydney. The sustained warm dry periods produced unusual ripening rates and patterns and an early and very condensed harvest in many regions. However, the impact of the hot and dry conditions was reduced by the availability of water in the irrigated areas and generally good winter rains.
In 2013 the crush of red and white varieties both increased compared with 2012, but the increase was much greater for reds. Their contribution to the total crush increased to nearly 52% while whites fell to 48% - with reds accounting for 946,000 tonnes and whites for 888,000 tonnes. The top three red varieties were Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot - together accounting for 86% of the red crush. However, the share of the crush accounted for by these varieties was reduced compared with 2012, with the tonnage of minor varieties including Mataro, Tempranillo, Durif, Sangiovese and Barbera increasing by a greater percentage than the tonnage of the top five varieties. Dolcetto was the only variety to show a significant decrease in tonnage as a percentage of its 2012 crush. In the whites, Chardonnay dominated with 45% of the white crush - the next highest contributor being Sauvignon Blanc with 11%, with Semillon falling further behind at 9%. While the red crush increased overall by 14%, the white crush only increased by 7%. Muscat Blanc more than doubled its 2012 crush, while Muscadelle and Viognier also showed moderate increases. Chenin Blanc, Palomino/Pedro, Riesling, Semillon and Traminer all showed small reductions in crush against the trend, while Doradillo was down by 50% (although from a small base).
Source: Winemakers’ Federation of Australia, Vintage Report, July 2013