Australia's new National Wine Centre has become the site of Australia's first public protest at the low prices for grapes in Australia's wine industry.

Grape growers, who were met with political indifference, from vineyards along the river Murray in South Australia gathered outside the Centre in the state capital, Adelaide, to give away boxes of grapes they said would either rot on the vine or be harvested and left to rot.

It was the first public sign of long projected grape surplus in an apparently booming Australian industry.

Unseasonal conditions have lifted yields in the Murray regions but created a fall in prices. Organiser of the protest by independent growers Tom Economou said: "Our whole livelihoods are being threatened by the huge corporate plantings being encouraged by the federal government's tax incentives."

Another grower Gerry Bariamis said he lost $A50,000 ($US25,000) last year and expect this to double in 2002.

"In about 10 days I will get a harvester to just pick my grapes and throw them on the ground because I haven't got any supplier." A spokesman for the federal agriculture minister Warren Truss said the government was aware of the problem in the region but not a lot could be done at this stage.