The Australian wine industry will today celebrate a milestone $2 billion in annual export sales for 2001-2002, reinforcing its position as one of the nation's leading income earners.

The achievement comes in just under three years after the industry's $1 billion export target was achieved in July 1999 and represents a new record in both the value and volume of wine sales overseas.

Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation manager, information and analysis, Lawrie Stanford said the result indicated a resurgence in export wine sales following the record two years ago and should give some confidence to grapegrowers and winemakers who are facing a challenging supply of red wine for the next year or so.

"Some concerns in the industry may also be allayed by the fact that red wine sales accounted for 70% of the increased sales volume," Stanford said. "Clearly Australian red wine, not just Australian wine, is the flavour of the decade overseas.

"The $2 billion record has capped off a remarkable 20 years in which wine exports have grown from $13 million to $2000 million by 2001-02," Mr Stanford said.

"2002 has certainly been a year of records. Not only is the value of exports up by 24%, the best performance since 1999-2000, but the volume of sales is up by 22%, again the best result in three years.

"The industry has also achieved a record increase on last year - $387 million in value and 78 million litres in volume."

Commenting on the results, Australian Wine Export Council's general manager, Jonathan Scott, said Australia's top five export markets - the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, New Zealand and Germany - continued to drive the export boom.

"The ranking is unchanged since last year, both in terms of value and volume sales, but there have been some significant milestones reached.

"Sales in the UK passed the 200 million litre mark, representing a doubling of volume in four years and reinforcing the UK's position as Australia's major market for wine. However, for the first time North America (US, Canada) was responsible for more than 50% of sales growth," Scott said.

"This result has been achieved despite an uncertain international economic climate and shifting exchange rates. Despite this, we have been able to maintain our price per litre value ($4.79/litre) and continue to lift our share of the world wine market.

"During the year, Australia cemented its position as the world's fourth largest wine exporter (behind France, Italy and Spain), and the largest outside of the European Union," Scott said.