“250 million hectolitres is our estimate of wine production for 2021 – said Pau Roca, citing data collected on 28 countries – This year's production is extremely low. The expected volume is -4% than 2020 which was also below the average”. Wine production has been decreasing constantly worldwide for the third year in a row, now and, unfortunately, 2021 wans't a good year for Europe. Grape harvest was affected by bad weather throughout the continent, recording plummeting wine production almost everywhere.
All the data: Europe decreasing, South Hemisphere rising
Italy scored a – 9% due to late spring frost at the beginning of April, but still wears the crown as the world largest wine producer with 44.5 million hectolitres, followed by Spain. France was the most severely hit European country by the late spring frost, to which add up also summer rains, hailstorms and vine infections: “A disaster – said Pau Roca – for France it was one of the lowest values ever recorded” (34.2 mhl, a drop of 27%). Italy, Spain and France, which account for 45% of the world and 79% of the EU wine production, together lost almost 22 million hectolitres compared to 2020. Greece also suffered a 26% reduction, one of the worst ones in Europe, while only a few countries managed to increase their harvests: Germany, Hungary, Portugal and Romania.
The USA are stable with a +6% (24.1 mhl) despite the wildfires that hit the country, especially in California, where Napa Valley is one of the key US producing regions. No data are available right now for China, although the country is going through a contraction for structural reasons that started in 2016. Things have gone decidedly better for the Southern Hemisphere, with a record- high of 59 mhl: countries in South America, South Africa and Australia too (except New Zealand) recorded an increase of 19% compared to 2020, thanks to favourable climatic conditions. So, together with the US, they somehow balanced the grim results in Europe.
Other good news come from the consumption data: “We expect a rise in global wine consumption – said Roca – and the first 2021 semester seems to confirm this trend, as exports rised a 9% in volume and a 22% in volume, better than our expectations”. It looks like wine commerce is now getting even better than before the pandemic, comparing data with 2019.
The real enemy? Climate change
So, looking at the disastrous European harvest, the real challenge to the wine world hasn't been the pandemic: “Climate change is a much worse problem than the pandemic – stated Pau Roca – We must begin to prevent its effects, only with long-term solutions, and sustainable ones”. The OIV has its own experts already working on strategic plans for sustainability in viticulture, in which digitalization also plays a key role to find solutions.
Roca also talked about the role wine tourism plays in helping develop rural areas, affirming that the OIV is strictly collaborating with the UN agency for tourism, the World Tourism Organization, to monitor and promote wine tourism.
Concluding his speech, presidente Roca said that this two tough years showed that the wine sector is resilient, and ready to adapt to situations – and that's important to keep going stronger.
Cover Photo: OIV President Pau Roca during the online press conference