Champagne tastes tipped to revive domestic wine fortunes
Expensive taste ... wine drinkers are choosing the pricier bottles. Photo: Wolter Peeters
THE story of Australia's wine consumption over the past five years has been dominated by the Kiwi-led invasion of foreign imports, and generic label wines, like cleanskins, that have thrived amid the wine glut.
That is about to change, according to market researcher Nielsen.
Australian brand wines will take the lion's share of sales growth over the next three years, primarily driven by consumers who continue to upgrade their wine consumption from the cask-end of the market to premium bottled wine.
According to Nielsen, we may be consuming less wine overall but we are willing to pay more for what we do drink.
''It's a universal story, quite frankly, in alcohol, which is we're simply buying less alcohol than we used to but we're buying better,'' the executive director of Nielsen, Michael Walton, said.
Local sales of branded Australian wine ''flatlined'' over the past five years with imported product - led by New Zealand's ubiquitous sauvignon blanc - accounting for 75 per cent of sales growth over this period, according to Mr Walton.
Generic wines claimed a further 15 per cent of the sales growth.
According to Nielsen, the foreign invasion is expected to run out of puff as its market share matures, while generic wines are expected to run out of growth in the sub $10 price point as consumers increase their spending on more expensive wines.
Five years ago, 60 per cent of wine sold off-the-shelf was cask wine: this is down to 50 per cent, according to Nielsen data.
The broad figures also hide surprising nuggets on our consumption habits. The data shows family-owned wine brands have already been growing faster than generic label product due to consumer tastes for premium wine.
Nielsen has forecast Australian branded wine will account for 70 per cent of the $400 million sales growth to 2015 and will have their best opportunity in a decade to thrive.
Mitchell Taylor, who heads Taylors Wines, said family-run wineries will do well due to their association with quality and innovation.
He said family-run wineries led the use of screw caps in 2000, and are leading again with the use of lighter varietal grapes which are more suited to local lifetstyles and dining habits.