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Global wine production falls due to poor weather conditions

Spring frosts and droughts hit some of the world’s top wine producers

Photo by Bill Williams /Unsplash

The year 2017 in wine production saw a historic low due to harsh weather conditions. According to data from the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), global wine output totaled 250 million hectoliters, which is 8.6 percent less than the total wine output in 2016.

Although this is obviously not the first time wine production has been negatively impacted by poor weather conditions, the reason authorities and wine enthusiasts alike are especially concerned has to do with the fact that global wine output hasn’t been this low since 1957.

Again, poor weather conditions and resulting poor harvests are not unusual occurrences in wine production. Last year’s drop was particularly severe because it was the world’s top wine producers that were affected. Timing, too, contributed to the gravity of the problem, as Italy, France, and Spain were all hit by harsh weather at (essentially) the same period. As Stephen Rannekleiv told CNN Money last year: “It’s not as if a major wine-producing country hasn’t had a poor harvest before; the problem is that Spain, Italy, and France have all had an off year at the same time.”

BAD EUROPEAN WEATHER

France experienced spring frosts that forced grape farmers to warm their crops with heaters and candles, which led to a 19 percent decrease in wine production levels. Italian vineyards on the other hand experienced a drought during the summer, leaving wine production levels to experience a decrease of 17 percent at 42.5 million hectoliters. The worst drop was suffered by Spain, which reported a decrease of 20 percent at 32.1 million hectoliters. According to the European Commission, last year’s regional harvest is shaping up to be the worst since 1982.

Outside the European Union, however, wine production levels remained relatively stable. The United States, the world’s fourth largest wine producer, didn’t experience any drastic problems in wine production despite wildfires hitting six wineries in Napa and Sonoma in August. China’s wine output remains stable as well. (The country has become the world’s seventh largest wine producer, just behind Australia and Argentina). As for Latin America, production trends proved to be mixed: Argentina posted a 25 percent increase, while Chile reported a six percent decline.

NO RISK OF SHORTAGE

While these numbers prove to be alarming, they don’t necessarily entail a serious wine shortage. “We have to bear in mind that wine is a product that is stocked, meaning all the wine produced in the year is not or does not have to be consumed in the year of production,” said an OIV spokesperson, The Independent reports.

“There is currently no danger of a wine shortage, as it would take more than a few consecutive years of this phenomenon (historically low production levels) to bring us to that point. ”

ON CONSUMPTION AND EXPORTS

Meanwhile, global wine consumption posted an increase of 1.8 percent (around 243 million hectoliters) from 2016. The US remains to be the largest wine consumer in the world with 32.6 million hectoliters, followed by France at 27 million. Chinese wine consumption increased for a third year in a row with an increase in 2017 of 3.5 percent at 17.9 million hectoliters

As for exports, Spain remains to be the largest with a global market share of 20.5 percent, while France remains to be the lead in terms of value with 9.0 billion euros. Overall, global wine exports totaled 107.9 million hectoliters in 2017, up 3.4 percent on the previous year, and 30 billion euros in value, an increase of 4.8 percent on 2016.

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