STRUGGLING grape growers will receive an average of just 27c for each standard bottle of wine sold this year amid predictions that a horror harvest will push many to the brink of ruin.
But The Advertiser reports that consumers are benefiting from the crisis, with some wines now on sale for less than the cost of a bottle of water.
The revelations come as the state's poorest grape harvest for over two decades draws to a close and initial figures show revenue down more than 75 per cent from the 2002 peak.
As reported by The Weekly Times on April 21, growers in South Australia's Riverland growers will receive an average of just $265 a tonne for their fruit this year, lower than the average prices paid in 1992.
Figures obtained by The Advertiser show the Riverland, the engine room of the state's wine industry, earned just $68 million this harvest, down from $255 million in the boom times eight years ago.
The crisis is evidence of the growing strain on the industry as observers forecast the grape harvest to fall to its lowest in years.
Growers groups are calling for more government aid to maximise returns as a global wine glut pushes wine prices to the point where some bottles can now be bought for less than bottled water.
Apart from rock-bottom grape prices, the harvest size is the smallest in a decade with the exception of the drought and frost-decimated crop of 2007.
With the state harvest finishing in the South-East in the next few weeks, estimates indicate the SA crop will fall to 600,000 tonnes or less, compared with a peak of 904,022 tonnes in 2006.
Few growers have made money this year as increasing numbers leave the industry.
Riverland Wine Grape Growers Association executive officer Chris Byrne said consumers will be the winners as the lowest-priced wines sell for less than the price of bottled water.
"The Riverland grape grower was getting 66c from a bottle of wine in 2000, but it has dropped to only 27c a bottle this year," he said.
Read more on The Advertiser online.