The Australian wine industry consists of a diverse range of participants, including an estimated 2500 winemakers and more than 6000 wine grape growers, producing wine grapes on an area in excess of 135 000 hectares spread across most states but predominantly in southern Australia. Wine production was estimated to be 1.29 billion litres in 2018, and during the 2017−18 financial year 849 million litres was exported, valued at $2.8 billion. The Australian wine industry is estimated to employ more than 175,000 people, and directly and indirectly contribute over $40 billion annually to the Australian economy.
Approximately two thirds of annual wine grape production occurs in what are referred to as the ‘warm climate’ grape growing regions, which include the Riverina, Murray Valley and Riverland wine regions, located in southern NSW, north western Victoria and South Australia.
In these regions, growers operating generally small-scale grape farms typically produce grapes under contract to a relatively small number of very large-scale winemakers, with the bulk of the wine produced from these grapes destined for export markets.
The contractual arrangements between growers and winemakers in these regions has frequently been the subject of concerns raised with the ACCC, as has the level of competition between winemakers for growers’ grapes. These issues were the subject of a market study conducted by the ACCC, the interim results of which are reported here.