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Global Wine Output Could Be Lowest In A Half-Century

October 25, 2017

With Italy, France and Spain all reporting short wine harvests this year, global wine production in 2017 could be the lowest since 1961. Citing frost, drought and other unfavorable climate conditions, the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) has flagged “historically low” production across Western Europe, forecasting that global output will slump 8.2% this year compared to 2016, to 247 million hectoliters.

Italy, the top wine producing nation globally, is expected to see the biggest decline this year, with wine production forecasted to fall 23% to 39 million hectoliters, down from 51 million hectoliters in 2016. France and Spain, ranked second and third respectively, are in a similar position. France is expected to be down 19% to 37 million hectoliters, while Spain is projected to slip 15% to 34 million hectoliters. Portugal was one bright spot in Europe, rising 10% to 6.6 million hectoliters.

“We had a huge frost in northern Spain at the end of April, and of course throughout most of Europe,” says Victor Urrutia, CEO of Rioja’s Cune. “It’s going to be a very short vintage. We’ll have less than 50% of our typical production. Some wineries will be down as much as 90%.”

While Europe is down significantly, the U.S. and the Southern Hemisphere appear to have fared better. The U.S. is projected to produce 23 million hectoliters of wine this year, down 1%, although the estimate was made prior to the recent wildfires in Napa and Sonoma. Still, given that those two regions combine for less than 10% of total California winegrapes, according to UC Davis, the impact on overall California production should be limited.

In the Southern Hemisphere, Australia—which ranks fifth globally in terms of output—is projected to rise 6% to 14 million hectoliters this year. Meanwhile, South American countries Argentina and Brazil have rebounded after short harvests in 2016, up 25% to 12 million hectoliters and 169% to 3.4 million hectoliters respectively. Chile wasn’t so fortunate. Its output has slumped both in 2016 and in 2017, with a decline of 6% to 9.5 million hectoliters expected for this year.—Daniel Marsteller

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