Autumn is a splendid time in Australia. It is the time of colours and, of course, harvest festivals. The past weekend saw two such events celebrating the 2010 vintage of the Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association.
The first was the traditional “Day on the High” in Mansfield, High Street, which is a street festival. The second event was the “Upper Goulburn Long Lunch” which was held in the Mansfield showground pavilion. Both events are the highlight of the year for many of our winery members and the many related trades displaying their wares and produce, meeting friends, eating and drinking and being merry.
Australia’s 2010 vintage was the smallest in a decade. Instead of 1.8 million tons of grapes, only about 1.4 million tons were harvested. The wine industry is being plagued by oversupply in general. Moreover, 2010 was another drought year with poor grape prices. Many grape growers just gave up. More than 8,000 ha of vines have been pulled already and many more vineyards have been abandoned.
So therefore, this autumn was also a great time for the birds feasting on the many unharvested grapes on the vines. The wine industry crisis is hitting many family businesses, not so much the very small weekender and backyard vintners, but the full-time and medium-sized ones. Some of the investor driven schemes have also suffered. The corporates, however hard hit, are shedding “the fat”, meaning they are “selling the crap” and keeping the profitable brands and vineyards.
For many vintners 2010 was not a good year and for many more, crunch time is still to come. But on this weekend those sombre thoughts were stashed away for a few hours. Let the good times roll on (even if only for a couple of hours).