The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) is playing down the threat of a red wine grape glut in the country, according to The Herald and Weekly Times. A surge in production, the Bureau says, will be absorbed by a demand from wineries.

However, many industry analysts are reported to still be concerned and fear that red grape growers could be hit hard. Figures from ABARE show that wine grape production is set to jump nearly 30% in the next three years to reach 1.47m tonnes by 2002-2003.

After a surge in red grape plantings in recent years, the majority of new wines will be red. Red varieties will increase 55%, while the white grape harvest is set to increase only 17%.

Stephen Strachan, the policy director at the Winemakers' Federation of Australia told the Herald and Weekly Times that the ABARE figures on planned intakes were unreliable.

"They are essentially a winemaker wish-list and take no account of quality issues or what winemakers will actually do," he said.