A lift in demand for premium wines has helped boost Australia's wine exports for the first time since 2007.
Figures released by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority earlier this month show exports rose by 1.9 per cent in both volume and value terms during 2014.
The falling value of the Australian dollar helped lift export volumes to 700 million litres last year.
The value of the wine jumped 19 percent to $1.82 billion, partly driven by demand for premium wines – above $7.50 per litre – in North America, Europe and much of Asia.
Premium wines – and especially ultra-premium wines priced above $50 – experienced the strongest growth throughout the year.
While the average value of exports remained steady at $2.60 per litre, the average value of bottled wine for export increased 7% to $4.85 a litre – the highest it’s been in a decade.
Wine exports in the above $10 range were at $356 million, just below the record high of $371 million set in September 2007.
“It's encouraging to see the value of Australian wine exports in positive growth for the first time since 2007,” said AGWA acting chief executive Andreas Clark.
“Increasing demand for our premium wines was a major contributing factor to that growth.”
Biggest export market
The United Kingdom was the biggest export market by volume, taking mostly bulk wine destined for Europe.
In the US, demand for premium wine lifted as the improving economy and more buoyant stock markets resulted in consumers having more money.
But the export of cheaper bulk wine to the US fell because two consecutive record US grape harvests had reduced demand for imported wine.
More than 90 percent of ultra-premium wines were exported to Asia.
While Beijing's austerity measures since late 2012 have hurt China's imported wine market, total Australian exports rose by eight percent last year to 40 million litres with a value of A$224 million.
"In volume terms, bottled exports have almost recovered to the levels recorded before the full effects of the austerity measures took hold," the AGWA said.
China is Australia's third-largest export market for wine in terms of value, behind the US and Britain.
Exports to Canada increased a staggering 48% to 31 million litres last year, largely helped along by the country’s small domestic wine sector.