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A strong performance by Margaret River helped save WA wine exports last year.

The December 2012 Wine Export Approval Report released by Wine Australia yesterday revealed the value of bottled wine exports from WA regions other than Margaret River fell 41 per cent last year, from $12.9 million to $7.6 million.

Margaret River helped increase WA's total export value from $23.7 million to $26.2 million.

The slump in WA regions other than Margaret River came despite an increase in demand for Australian wines in international markets, including a 15 per cent jump in overall exports to China.

But Wines of Western Australia general manager Aymee Mastaglia said the overall situation remained positive for WA growers.

"WA tends to look fairly tiny when you consider the whole of Australia, because we only handle 4 per cent of the total wine," she said.

"Given Margaret River produces around 50 per cent of WA's wine, we think the overall situation is very encouraging." Ms Mastaglia said. WA stood to maintain its strong share of the premium wine market, amounting to 15-20 per cent of total exports.

"The Chinese view WA as a premium producer of wine," she said.

"As they begin to adopt Western practices when it comes to wine drinking, they will remain a key market for WA."

While shiraz, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot remain the most popular varieties for international buyers, all experienced a significant decline in demand last year.

The biggest growth in demand was for pinot grigio and pinot noir.

The high Australian dollar also continued to create problems for Australian growers, with Casella Wines posting its first loss in more than 20 years.

Seen as a success story because of the strong American presence of its Yellow Tail label, the winery is no longer making any money from US sales because of the high dollar.

Overall, Australian wine exports increased 3 per cent to $1.85 billion.