Due to a drop in Italian wine production, France is set to become the world's leading producer for 2023.
The first estimations show that France should reclaim the top spot on the global wine-producing podium, surpassing Italy which has had a smaller grape harvest this past year, according to experts.
This year, French wine production "should amount to 46 million hectolitres, a level comparable to that of 2022 and 3% higher than the 2018-2022 average", the French Ministry of Agriculture's statistics department, Agreste, said on Friday, based on estimates drawn up on 1 October.
Meanwhile, Italian production is expected to fall to around 43 million hectolitres, compared to 50 million the previous year, according to a press release issued by Coldiretti, Italy's main agricultural organisation, on 2 October.
"It's a significant event because it's a symbol,” Jean-Marie Cardebat, a specialist in wine economics at Bordeaux University, told AFP.
Italian vineyards hit by mildew
Since 2007, with the exception of 2011 and 2014, Italy has remained the world's leading wine producer, according to figures from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).
"But this is purely seasonal,” Cardebat added, explaining that Italian vineyards have been particularly hard hit by mildew this year.
Coldiretti referred to a "complex season from a meteorological point of view which, between bad weather and heatwaves, reduced estimated national production by around 14%, with losses of up to 50% in the central south".
However, there was still hope at the beginning of the month thanks to the "mild, dry" climate that was favourable to the quality of the harvest, "thanks to the absence of humidity and the wide temperature range between day and night".
As far as France is concerned, "the situation in the various vineyards is mixed", Agreste said.
Production "is down in Bordeaux and the southwest because of mildew and the heatwave, and in Languedoc and Roussillon because of the drought", noted the organisation.
"Elsewhere, the situation is favourable, particularly in the Charentes region.”
While world demand for wine has also "slowed temporarily, particularly from China", the fall in Italian production "is rather good news", as it should ease the pressure on prices, said Jean-Marie Cardebat.
Several factors shake the market
The wine market has been shaken over the past few years due to climate change but also because of the accumulation of stocks during the pandemic and inflation.
According to the EU data, a 7% drop in wine consumption was observed this year across the bloc, while in France it was 15%.
Overall, EU wine exports for the first months of 2023 were 8.5% compared to the previous year.
In June this year, the European Commission adopted a series of measures to support EU wine producers.
The support programme includes measures to distil the wine in order to take it out of the market. Every year, roughly €1 billion is dedicated to the sector.
Wine producers are also trying to adapt to changes the sector faces, especially the ones related to climate change.
In France’s Beaujolais region, the French Wine and Vine Institute is conducting tests on both technical solutions to protect the vine and grape varieties more compatible with the new climatic conditions.