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Spanish wine harvest 2023: Record insurance payout for growers expected

Spain’s farm-insurance programme Agroseguro expects to pay record indemnities to the country’s wine-growers this year, after vineyards were hit by spring frost, extreme drought and hail.

Wine-growers’ insured damages are estimated at €100.5m in 2023, Agroseguro said in a statement last week. That’s more than double the payout for wine-grape damage last year, and the most since the agricultural insurance system was founded in 1978.

Drought and multiple hail storms made for ‘a very difficult year’, Agroseguro spokesman Aitor Moriyón told Decanter. ‘We had problems with the biggest drought in the history of Spain, and a very difficult September month, with rain, wind and hail.’

Spain will produce its smallest vintage in six years after adverse weather hit major growing areas, with volumes forecast to fall 20% to about 33m hectolitres, industry group Cooperativas Agro-Alimentarias Castilla-La Mancha said in September.

Climate change is creating harsher conditions for Spanish wine-growers, with multiple record drought and hail events in recent years, according to Moriyón. Agroseguro’s previous biggest payout for wine-grape damage was €83.5m in 2021, another year when drought and hail hit Spanish vineyards.

‘Climate change and the actual reality are really tough, especially for all the producers,’  Moriyón said.

Vineyards in Castilla y León suffered damage from very cold nights in April and May, while Catalunya was particularly impacted by drought, Moriyón said. La Rioja, Valencia and Castilla-La Mancha suffered from multiple slow-moving depressions, known in Spanish by the acronym DANA, which brought heavy rainfall and hail.

Agroseguro already paid out €65.7m of the expected damage this year, including around €23m for hail and storm damage, €21.3m for drought damage to vineyards, and almost €12m for wine-grape losses caused by frost.

Agroseguro’s total indemnities for agricultural damages are expected to exceed €970m in 2023, the most ever. Capital insured increased for a ninth year in 2023, and agricultural-insurance cover will probably increase again next year, according to Moriyón.

Spain is the world’s third-largest wine producer, behind France and Italy. Italian wine output is forecast to fall 12% after the country suffered its own share of extreme weather, while France expects stable output, with higher wine volumes in the north making up for drought damage in the south.


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