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Aussie drought means higher prices

By Dave Buchanan
If you see your favorite Australian wine start to jump a bit in price, you can blame that continent’s continued drought and it’s affect on the grape harvest. According to a story in the Brisbane Times, the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation said the 2008 harvest, which takes place during our spring, will be only 1.22 million tons, down from 1.47 million tons this year. And there’s likely another decline in 2009, said the report, which forecast a 2009 harvest of 1.169 million tons of grapes. What that means to consumers is a likely price jump of about $1 per bottle, said Sam Tolley, chief executive of the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation. Australia exported about 800 million liters (about .5 million cases) of wine in 2007 worth about $3 billion. Meanwhile, the Web site reported that Chilean wine exports are “soaring,” surpassing $1.1 billion a year in spite of the weak American dollar. That’s a 30 percent increase over 2006, and it’s no surprise that Chilean wine makers are taking advantage of Australia’s drought woes. Wines of Chile President Rene Merino told the unusually high export figures in part are due to the drought in Australia, but said such growth was unlikely to continue due to a decline in domestic investment in the wine industry. Chile current exports 70% of its wine, and with Australian wine facing a price increase, value-conscious wine buyers are taking advantage of Chile’s affordable wine and its improving quality.