Aussie winemaker becoming upbeat

One of Australia's largest winemakers says the nation's beleaguered wine industry is showing signs of recovery despite hideous weather conditions.

David Clarke, CEO of McGuigan Simeon Wines Ltd., told The Age newspaper, "The industry is returning to balance. As a result, the overhang of wine stocks is clearing and we are seeing improvement in margins at McGuigan Simeon."

The industry has estimated a 2008 vintage of between 800,000 and 1.3 million tons. Export sales of branded wine increased by 20% per cent in the first quarter at the highest margin the group has achieved "in some time," Clarke noted.

"Additionally, we are capturing higher margins in Australia, although there is still very aggressive pricing from some winemakers, particularly at lower price points."

McGuigan, Australia's No. 3 winemaker, previously had forecast fiscal 2008 to be a challenging year for the group.

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