Don’t panic: World wine supplies rebound from historic low

Concerns about a shortage look to have been allayed after bumper 2018 harvests in Europe helped production recover from a slump in 2017, show new figures.

World wine production hit 292m hectolitres in 2018, the second highest total since 2000 and up 17% versus 2017, said the Organisation of Vine & Wine ahead of its annual congress, in Geneva, Switzerland.

That is equivalent to 38.9bn bottles and reflects strong rebounds for the world’s three largest producers, Italy, France and Spain, which were hit by frost and a severe late-summer heatwave in 2017.

The OIV warned last year that it expected global wine supplies to ‘dramatically tighten’ after production fell back to 1960s levels.

Things are never that simple in reality, of course.

Some regions were hit harder than others in 2017 and supply from particular areas or estates depends on release dates and existing stock levels. Big harvests, by contrast, don’t always mean higher quality.

Global wine consumption was 246mhl in 2018, led by the US, and has been stable in recent years, the OIV said.

Which countries produced the most wine in 2018?

Italy topped the world wine production league for the fourth year in a row, weighing in at 54.8m hectolitres (hl), up 29% on 2017.

France was second, on 48.6mhl, up 34% on 2017, and Spain was third, on 44.4mhl, up 37%.

Beyond Europe, Chile and Argentina saw their 2018 harvests rise by 36% and 23% respectively to 12.9mhl and 14.5mhl.

The US has shown more consistency in recent vintages and its 2018 crop produced 23.9mhl, up 2% on 2017.

Not everybody produced more wine in 2018, however.

Severe drought hampered winemakers in South Africa, which saw production fall by 12% to 9.5mhl.

And a fall in yields saw China produce 9.1mhl in 2018, down 22%, said OIV.

Its figures showed that 108mhl of wine worth a total €31bn flowed across country borders in 2018, based on export data. That means 2018 trade flows were level with 2017, it said.


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