ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) -- Australia's 2008 wine grape vintage could be less than half the usual harvest because of drought, and exports will likely be reduced, industry groups said Monday.
The grape crop will likely be between 800,000 metric tons (880,000 U.S. tons) and 1.3 million metric tons (1.43 million U.S. tons), said a joint statement from the Winemakers' Federation of Australia and Wine Grape Growers' Australia.
Normal seasonal conditions yield about 1.9 million metric tons (2.1 million U.S. tons).
"A drop in the size of the crop toward the lower end of this estimate means that Australian wine exports will most likely fall over the next 12 months," said WFA chief executive officer Stephen Strachan.
Australia, a major wine exporter, has in recent years made more wine than it can sell. But that glut will soon disappear, the wine industry groups said in their statement.
"Australian wineries are gearing up to manage a grape and wine shortfall over the next year or two at least," the statement said.
Australia, the world's driest continent after Antarctica, is in the grip of its worst drought in a century.
Australia exported more than 800 million liters of wine last fiscal year for more than 3 billion Australian dollars (US$2.6 billion).