By Boyd Champness

THE Australian wine industry crushed 1.117 million tonnes of grapes in the 1999 season – the first time it has topped the million tonne mark – with Chardonnay and Shiraz the top varieties.

According to the Stock and Land, the 1999 harvest, up 20% on the previous year, represented an extra 139 million litres of wine, equivalent to two-thirds of total 1998-99 Australian wine export volumes.

The Australian Wine Federation said red wine grapes increased by 33% to 473,995 tonnes, representing just over 40% of the total crush, with specialist white wine grapes up by 21% to 494,662 tonnes or 42% of the total crush.

The rapid increase in vineyards across Australia has some agricultural pundits concerned about market availability and maintaining prices for Australian wine.