The Mildura and Swan Hill regions of the giant Murray-Darling Basin zone were once the engine room of Australia’s booming international wine trade, but as the decline in the popularity of Australian wine bites at home, hundreds of growers are leaving the industry. New data shows that over 600 growers from the Murray zone have left the industry over the past two years.
An unusually wet season in this driest of growing regions pushed many to quit last year after disease and flooding destroyed their livelihoods. However, even without the disastrous vintage of 2010, most would have struggled to pay their bills on what wine companies are paying for wine grapes.
In 2010 13,000 hectares or 8% of the total Murray-Darling area was not harvested because of low prices. This year the average price paid for a tonne of shiraz grapes in the zone was A$285, with chardonnay fetching A$235.