Leading Australian wine group, Southcorp, has suspended trading in its shares after a sharp fall which followed downgraded earnings forecasts for the company by analysts. The company is due to make an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange but has requested a halt in trading until next Tuesday.

Shares in Southcorp fell to A$5.82, their lowest value in more than a year, after several analysts downgraded their forecasts following briefings from the company. Analysts said Southcorp, producer of the Penfolds and Wynn brands, advised them to reduce their earnings forecasts for 2002/03 by A$30m to allow for the impact of a poor 2002 vintage for premium wines.

Bad weather resulted in the worst vintage in 10 years causing a lack of quality fruit for the company's super premium red wines.