Estimates for global wine production for this year predict we will see historically low levels. For publication in the week starting 6 November 2017.
Drought and extreme heat plus frosts in some regions were the main reasons for predictions of historically low levels of wine production in Western Europe this year. Low output among the main European producers meant that global wine production this year fell 8.2 per cent compared with last year, totalling about 246.7 million hectolitres (mhl) against 268.8 mhl in 2016.
The low output was especially noticeable among Europe’s biggest producers: Italy, France and Spain. Germany with 8.1 million hectoliters also recorded low production.
Meanwhile, some countries in Eastern Europe, Portugal, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand managed normal or better volumes. Portugal (6.6 mhl), Romania (5.3 mhl), Hungary (2.9 mhl) and Austria (2.4 mhl) were the only European countries to record a rise in output compared with last year.
The International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) presented preliminary figures for the world’s wine production at a press conference late last month in Paris. Director general Jean-Marie Aurand said production had been especially affected “by the extreme heat and drought in France, Spain and Italy”.
Italy managed to produce the biggest volume of any country with 39.3 mhl. A regular harvest in Italy would be about 50 mhl. Italy was the leading world producer for the third year in a row this year. Italy’s biggest losses were in Tuscany, down 45 per cent; Central, 41 per cent; Abruzzo, 30 per cent; and Emilia-Romagna and Piemonte, 25 per cent.
France was the world’s second biggest producer with 36.7 mhl, 19 per cent lower than for last year. Spain was third with 33.5 mhl, about 15 per cent down relative to 2016.
Because of the declines among the world’s three largest wine producers, the world’s total output was down.
Data came from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV). Jean-Marie Aurand, the OIV’s director general, said production this year had reached a historic low, especially in Western Europe, due to “unfavourable climate conditions”.
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The OIV, composed of 46 member nations, is an inter-governmental scientific and technical organisation recognised for its knowledge and expertise about wine, wine-based beverages and vine-based products.
Monsieur Aurand said in the European Union extreme weather events – from frost to drought – “significantly impacted 2017 wine production” which was historically low. “The forecasts of the three main producing countries saw a decrease compared with 2016 production.”
Among other EU countries Germany with 8.1 mhl recorded a fall of 10 per cent compared with last year. Greece with 2.5 mhl was also down 10 per cent. Bulgaria (1.1 mhl) fell only 2 per cent.
“Portugal (6.6 mhl), Romania (5.3 mhl), Hungary (2.9 mhl) and Austria (2.4 mhl) were the only countries to record a rise compared with 2016. After two poor harvests, Romania returned to a high level of production,” Monsieur Aurand said.
The United States, with 23.3 mhl vinified, was expected to maintain its high level of production for the second year in a row but was still down, though only by 1 per cent. But this forecast did not take into account the potential consequences of the fires in California last month.
Production in South America was expected to show an increase compared with 2016, despite low temperatures at the end of last year. Argentina recorded a rise in production with 11.8 mhl vinified, a significant 25 per cent jump compared with last year, though it should be noted that its 2016 harvest was one of the lowest in recent years.
Brazil also had very low production last year (about 1.4 mhl), so its production this year of about 3.4 mhl showed a major increase stistically. “In Chile, 2017 production registered a decline with 9.5 mhl, equating to minus 6 per cent compared with an already low 2016 production,” Monsieur Aurand said.
South Africa (10.8 mhl) had a slight increase of 2 per cent in 2017 compared with 2016. China was listed as seventh on the table of global wine producers, with 11.4 mhl, though it is notoriously difficult obtaining accurate data from this country. The OIV used 2016 data to predict the likely figure for this year.
In Oceania, Australia sustained its output for the third year in a row with 13.9 mhl this year, up 6 percent compared with 2016. In New Zealand, production declined this year by 9 per cent, though this was after a record production the previous year. Output remained high there, with 2.9 mhl.
Monsieur Aurand was reluctant to discuss the potential amount of wine that could be consumed this year, but various groups estimate it will be within the range of 240.5 to 245.8 mhl or roughly equivalent to what has been produced this year.
But we should not worry about a shortage of wine in the world because the big wine producers have stored vast amounts. France alone has 54 million hectoliters stockpiled, which is equal to about one year’s production.