Europe badly-hit as global wine production set for 'historic low'

Global wine production in 2017 will be “historically low” according to forecasts by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).

The OIV, based in Paris, estimates that the volume produced will drop to its lowest level for more than 50 years. In fact, worldwide wine production is expected to plunge from 268.8 to 246,7 million hectolitres, a fall of 8.2% compared to 2016.

Europe most affected

The fall will be particularly severe for the world’s biggest wine producers. Production has effectively fallen by 23% in Italy, by 19% in France and 15% in Spain. Together, these three countries have suffered a shortfall of more than 25 million hectolitres (Mhl) compared to 2016. Climatic hazards such as heatwave temperatures in Spain, frost in Italy and hail in France have combined to make 2017 a poor vintage year, quite apart from the main factor: widespread drought.

In France, while some vineyards have held up relatively well, others have suffered particular hardship: in the Bordeaux region practically half the grapes failed to ripen. Practically all regions have seen a decline in production, with the exception of Burgundy which withstood the conditions better.

Elsewhere in Europe, production in Germany has also witnessed a sharp fall, with a drop of 10% on last year. Other countries such as Austria (+24%), Portugal (+10%) and Hungary have reported a better bill of health. Top prize goes to Romania which, according to the OIV’s estimates, should see its production shoot up by 64%, with 5.3 Mhl in 2017 compared to 3.3 in 2016.

The rest of the world less affected

In South America, 2017 promises to be much better than last year, which suffered from an especially active El Niño phenomenon. Brazilian production soared by 169%, rising from 1.3 Mhl in 2016 to 3.4 this year. Same observation in Argentina, where volumes are up by 25%. In the United States, the OIV’s forecasts are due for review. The wildfires which raged in California in October have not been taken into account in the calculations. Thousands of hectares went up in smoke in the Sonoma and Napa wine-making regions. Some wine growers have estimated that their 2017 harvest risks being compromised.

South Africa, with 10.8 Mhl, has recorded a slight rise in its production. In the Pacific region, Australian production has risen by 6%, from 13.1 to 13.9 Mhl. New Zealand has recorded a fall of 9% (from 2.9 to 3.1 Mhl).

Consumption holds up

As regards worldwide consumption of wine in 2017, with no definitive figures yet available the OIV estimates the final tally will amount to between 240.5 hectolitres and 245.8 Mhl. Should this forecast be accurate, overall consumption would hold steady compared to last year, or might even be slightly up.
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