The EU's wine grape harvest shrunk due to spring frost and summer heat waves © PA Images
The EU's wine grape harvest shrunk due to spring frost and summer heat waves © PA Images

Global wine production to hit 50-year low

25 October 2017

Global wine production is set fall this year to its lowest level since 1961 after extreme weather caused damage to vineyards in western Europe – the world’s largest wine-growing area. 

A report by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) said that global output is expected to drop this year to around 247m hectolitres, down 8% from last year. 

A hectolitre is 100 litres, or the equivalent of just over 133 standard 75cl wine bottles, so the fall in output predicted by the OIV equates to about 2.9bn fewer bottles in 2017. 

“In the European Union (EU), extreme weather events – from frost to drought – significantly impacted 2017 wine production, which was historically low,” it said.

It added that sharp drops in the world’s top three wine producing countries (Italy, France and Spain) were largely responsible for the overall drop around the world.

OIV predicts Italian wine production will fall 23% to 39.3m hectolitres and that French production will 19% drop to 36.7m hectolitres. Meanwhile in Spain, production will be 15% lower at 33.5m hectolitres.

Earlier this month, the European Commission said that its estimates showed the EU’s wine grape harvest shrinking to a 36-year low due to adverse weather from spring frosts and summer heat waves.

Responding to the report, Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), said that the UK, which is already facing problems from the devaluation in sterling, a duty increase of 3.9% and Brexit-related uncertainty, would feel the impact through price hikes. 

“It’s a keen reminder that wine production remains at the mercy of the weather,” he said.

“As the biggest per capita importer of wine in an international market, the UK is bound to feel the effect of an increasingly challenging environment. Prices for consumers will inevitably rise.” 

WSTA also warned that the fall in production would heavily impact UK wine businesses. It said huge containers of wine are currently shipped to the UK, bottled and re-shipped around the world, generating 172,000 jobs and employing a further 105,000 people indirectly in the supply chain.

Further afield, Australian production is expected to rise 6% to 13.9m hectolitres and by 25% in Argentina to 11.8m hectolitres. In South Africa, production increased 2% to 10.8m hectolitres.

The report said output in the US – the world’s fourth-largest producer and its biggest wine consumer – is due to fall by only 1% to 23.3m hectolitres.

However, the OIV said those figures could change as the forecast was based on US government estimates made before the outbreak of wildfires in California that ravaged two of the state’s top wine producing areas, the Napa Valley and Sonoma County.

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