A report predicts Spain will produce more wine than France by 2015.
The report, commissioned on behalf of the Vignerons Indépendents (France’s independent winemakers association) says French production is expected to drop from the 2000-04 annual average of 52.8m hectoliters to 43.9m hls.
Italy, at 60m hl per year, is the biggest producer of wine in the world, followed – at present – by France, and Spain (45m hl average in the last decade).
In terms of total vineyard surface Spain has the most hectares under vine – around 1.16m – followed by France and Italy.
France’s hectarage has dropped from 1.23m in the 1970s to around 849,000 ha. This is due to falling production levels as well as the EU vine-pull scheme, started in 1988. Italy dropped from 1.4m ha to around 856,000 by 2004.
Falling production levels have been attributed to France’s reluctance to adapt to new trends and new types of consumer.
Traditionally France has been the largest consumer of its own wines, but dropping domestic consumption means they have had to look to foreign markets to bolster sales.
Eric Rosaz, president of Vignerons Indépendants, said producers have made strides in making their wine more accessible, but more needs to be done. ‘We have problems in terms of dynamism,’ he said.
In 2005 total French production was just over 53m hl of which Bordeaux and Champagne made up almost 10m hl.
While 2007 figures show France’s wine and spirit industry exported US$15bn there are concerns that this performance hides the real issues.
For the first time last year, sales of American wines in the UK overtook French wine sales.
The US is now selling and drinking more bottles than anywhere in the world, meaning France is no longer the world’s biggest wine market.
And the UK’s Wine and Spirit Trade Association reports huge growth of rosé on this side of the Channel over the last few years.
‘We have seen the biggest ever rise in rosé sales over the last three years,’ said Jeremy Beadles, WSTA chief executive.
Written by Sophie McLean