The Australian Bureau of Agricultural & Resource Economics (ABARE) has forecast that wine grape production in Australia will fall by 3% this fiscal year. But will pick up in the two years following, assuming average seasonal conditions.

In its annual analysis and outlook for the industry, ABARE predicted wine grape output for this fiscal year would reach 1.56m metric tons, down 3.1% from the 1.61m tons registered in the year to the end of June 2002. Last year's figure was 13% up on the previous year. ABARE said dry weather during 2002 was the cause of the first fall in wine grape production since 1996-97.

However, it added that production was expected to increase during the two years after 2002/3, rising to 1.77m tons by 2004/5.