McGuigan Simeon has disappointed grapegrowers by keeping suspensions in place for 16 grape varieties. The wine company, which has been in conflict with grapegrowers associations in New South Wales and Victoria after suspending contracts, said on Wednesday (8 February) that it would lift suspensions on only nine grape varieties.

In a letter to growers, retiring managing director Brian McGuigan said that the company had been unable to locate markets for the grapes from suspended contracts. "People shouldn't be thinking of us as being the final customer," McGuigan was cited as saying in ABC News. "We're the processor, we're the people who take the raw material and make it into a product that we've then got to sell.

"Our problems relate to our capacity to be able to sell as so many agricultural industries find themselves squeezed. Well we, the wine industry, are going through that process at the moment.

The suspensions will remain in place for 16 varieties until further notice, McGuigan told the growers. "We need to balance our intake against the off-take and for too long now, over the last couple of years, we have been in a situation where we have taken grapes well in excess of our needs and that is the manifestation really of the grape glut," he said.

Speaking to ABC, Glen Arnold, a board member of Riverland Winegrape Growers Association, said that legal action against McGuigan Simeon now seemed inevitable.

"The growers have tried very hard to be reasonable about all this. The only little problem we've got is that the people we're dealing with don't appear to be reasonable," he told the broadcaster. "They are using lawyers, nearly every communication we get from the company these days is sent by lawyers. There's no trust whatsoever left. There's a lot of worried growers out here."