Australia#;s peak wine exporting organisation is strengthening its mainland European marketing operations in response to what has become identified as the industry#;s success-problem.

A third woman, Ms Christine Berthold, is joining the Frankfurt based Australian Wine Bureau to increase sales to Germany. Her appointment by the Australian Wine Export Council co-incides with a joint marketing push in Germany by the rival Southcorp, BRL Hardy and Orlando Wyndham groups.

These moves came as the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation released a revealing statistical snapshot of the industry. It showed that in five years since 1996/7 to 2000/1 the number of wineries rose from 990 to 1318, though this is slightly misleading since Fosters with Southcorp, BRL Hardy and Orlando Wyndham dominate.

More significant is that the area under vine has gone from 89,797 hectares to 148,275 in the same period and production from 567 million litres to 1.424 billion.

Despite massive continuing publicity in press and media and the industry#;s own advertising and marketing campaigns, domestic sales have risen only gradually in the same period from 347 million litres 398m.

Booming exports have provided the growth, up from 155m litres worth A$600m ($305m) to 339m litres with a value of A$1.614 billion (US$820m).

The problem is that the UK and the US alone account for 70% of exports and the next biggest markets are Canada and New Zealand, all four being English speaking countries.

Germany is in fifth place but although ranked as the world#;s biggest importer takes on 13m litres a year hence the sudden moves to diversify and expand.

The Corporation#;s statistical portrait showed that the top six grape varieties are now, in rank order, Shiraz, Cabebernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Semillon, Merlot and Colombard.