The Australian wine industry leads the world in many fields, not least that of official prediction (remember its vow to swamp the world with Australian wine by 2025 – a target that was met by 2003?).
Nowadays some of the most important pronouncements come from Australia's Wine Industry Drought Taskforce which, together with the Winemakers' Federation of Australia (WFA) and Wine Grape Growers' Australia (WGGA), recently gave details of the likely continued shrinkage of Australian crop levels (admittedly following an embarrassing glut only moments ago).
Apparently the 2008 harvest, picked in the early months of next year, is likely to fall to somewhere between 800,000 and 1.3 million tonnes – the wide margin being understandable at this early stage. (In 2004, 2005 and 2006 the harvest topped 1.9 million tonnes.)
Yields are likely to decrease particularly severely in regions that rely heavily on water from the Murray Darling, although of course growing conditions vary significantly in other regions. The most obvious characteristic of the 2008 Australian grape harvest is likely to be a change in balance between fruit sourced from inland irrigated regions and that grown in cooler areas in Australia less affected by drought or problems of access to irrigation water.
Wine Australia maintains, "There is a clear priority on behalf of the Australian wine sector to maintain supply and manage price in all key markets. However it is already acknowledged that the previous years' opportunistic bulk sales will be the first exports to come under pressure."
For the specific benefit of those selling, and buying, Australian wine in the UK they add hopefully, "The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation is still expecting growth in total sales to the UK market for the next five years. Australia will continue to supply a broad offering to consumers in the UK across all price points and from a diverse range of wine producing regions."
Those Australian wine forecasters are expected to pronounce again towards the end of November.