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Wine world shrinks as thousands of EU vineyards grubbed up

The world of wine is shrinking, with global consumption falling and the total vineyard area decreasing during 2009, according to new figures.

Some 73,000 hectares (ha) of vineyards are estimated to have been wiped off the map of Europe during 2009, thanks to a new EU compensation scheme to encourage growers to abandon uneconomical vineyards.

Meanwhile, France has regained its position as the world’s leading wine-producing country, overtaking Italy for the first time since 2007, said the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).

OIV director general Federico Castellucci said the likely reduction in wine consumption during 2009 was a reflection of the economic downturn.

‘The world economic crisis has not spared the vitivinicultural sector, particularly wine consumption,’ he said. ‘In 2009, we experienced stagnating production, with an overall decrease in demand.’

Under the EU scheme, Spain is set to lose about 45,000ha of vineyards, Italy 11,900ha and France 10,300ha during the year.

The compensation scheme was over-subscribed by more than double, with a further 55,000ha reduction expected to follow across Europe in 2010.

Global wine production is expected to total about 268m hectolitres (hl), flat with last year’s figure, the OIV said.

Estimated production in France increased 9% to 45.7m hl, overtaking Italy at 45.5m hl (down 3%), and ahead of Spain, down 6% to 34.2m hl.

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Written by Richard Woodard

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