Australian wine group BRL Hardy will process a record 290,000 tonnes of grapes this year, 10% more than the 2001 vintage, managing director Stephen Millar said today.

Millar said it was “steady as she goes” and said production translated to a 15% growth in annual profit.

He was comfortable with analysts#; forecasts of a full year A$89m (US$44m). Exports to Europe now generated more than 50% of group profit.

Within Europe, Germany would be the company#;s number one strategic corporate priority. Substantial growth would also come from the Nobilo wine company and its own brands in New Zealand. Millar said the company would spend NZ$80m (US$33m) in expanding vineyards and wineries in New Zealand, concentrating on Sauvignon Blanc in the Marlbororough region for export.