Exports from Australia's wine industry broke the A$3bn barrier for the first time in the last 12 months, according to recent figures.

Trade body the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation said today (7 August) that wine exports hit A$3.007bn (US$2.57bn) for the 12 months to July. In volume terms, exports reached 805m litres, the first time the 800m barrier has been bettered.

While shipments to China leapt by 125% on the same period a year earlier, the US is now set to overtake the UK as the country's biggest wine market in the coming months.

The corporation hailed the figures as a major success for an industry under immense pressure of late. Speaking to local press, chief executive Sam Tolley said: "We have achieved (the growth) on the back of growth of bottled wine sales, and that reflects an increase in the price per litre and upper quality scale."

The UK maintained the top spot in value terms for exports, taking A$974m-worth of wine, with the US accounting for A$972m. Canada (A$273m), New Zealand (A102m) and Ireland (A$71m) were the other major markets for Australia.

In February, the corporation forecast that this year's Australian wine harvest would be 33% down on last year, thanks to a severe drought and frost in late 2006.