Global wine production reaches record level

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Italy, France and Spain are the world's largest wine producers.
Italy, France and Spain are the world's largest wine producers.

Related tags Wine

Global wine production reached a record of 292.3 mhl in 2018, according to the latest figures from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) – particularly notable given that the previous year saw historically low production.

Italy remains the world’s largest wine producer, followed by France and Spain. These countries are also the world’s largest exporters, accounting for more than 50% of the global market by volume.

Production in the US, Argentina, Chile and New Zealand has increased; while production in South Africa decreased due to drought in the country.

Global wine production figures

Global wine production registered an 8.2% decline in 2017​ to 246.7mhl (millions of hectolitres), with the largest declines in the EU which saw a 14% drop. This was attributed to extreme weather events which resulted in premature harvests and reduced harvest yields across Europe.

In 2018, however, global wine production increased 42.5mhl to 292.3mhl.

Italy remains the world’s largest producer with 54.8 mhl, followed by France (49.1 mhl) and Spain (44.4 mhl).

However, weather conditions affected production in some European countries. In Portugal (6.1 mhl), bouts of downy and powdery mildew impacted 2017 outputs, although production was still higher than the average of recent years. Production in Greece (2.2 mhl) and Bulgaria (1.0 mhl) was low.

From the data available, China’s production levels are estimated at 9.3 mhl in 2018 (down 2.3 mhl from 2017).

Wine production in the US increased by 0.5mhl compared to 2017, reaching 23.9mhl (excluding juice and musts).

Top wine countries

Italy​ is the world's largest wine producer

Spain ​has the largest area of vineyards

The US ​is the biggest wine consumer

The biggest exporters are France​ (by value) and Spain​ (by volume)

wine world

Production in Argentina grew by 2.7 mhl to reach 14.5 mhl, while Chile recorded strong growth with an increase of 3.4 mhl to reach 12.9 mhl. Production in Brazil, however, fell to 3.1 mhl.

South Africa produced 9.5 mhl in 2018: with a decrease of 1.4 mhl attributed to drought.  

Australian production remained stable, with 12.9 mhl vinified. New Zealand produced 3.0 mhl, an increase of 0.2 mhl.

A halt to vineyard area decline?

Global vineyard area has been declining since 2014, driven primarily by a reduction in vineyard area in the US, Portugal, Iran and Turkey.

In 2018, however, the total world area under vines was estimated at 7.4mha – very similar to the area recorded in 2017. Spain continues to devote the most area to vines: with 969kha.

“In Europe, the surface area in Italy is estimated to have risen by around 5 kha between 2017 and 2018, reaching 706 kha. This counters the trend in other European countries, which are experiencing stabilisation in their vineyard areas,” ​says OIV.

“In Asia, the expansion of Chinese vineyards (875 kha) slowed after more than 10 years of strong growth, while Turkey (448 kha) saw its size stabilise in 2018 after a steady decline since 2003.

“In the Americas, the vineyard area increased particularly in Mexico, where it reached 34 kha.

“South African vineyards have been slowly declining since 2012, to stand at 125 kha in 2018.

“In Oceania, the recent downturn in Australian vineyards (145 kha) seems to have slowed, while New Zealand’s vineyards remained more or less stable at around 39 kha.”

Early indicators of the 2019 harvest suggest a decrease in most southern hemisphere countries. Argentina, Brazil and Chile are all expected to be affected; as is Australia (as the result of a hot summer) and South Africa (which continues to be impacted by drought). New Zealand is the only southern hemisphere country where a harvest increase is predicted.

Exports and imports

Global trade in 2018 grew to 108 mhl, as well as increasing 1.2% in value, reaching €31.3bn ($35bn).

Wine exports are dominated by Spain, Italy and France: which make up 50% of the global market by volume. Spain is the biggest exporter by volume with 20.9 mhl, representing 19.4% of the global market. France is biggest exporter by value, with €9.3bn ($10.5bn) exported.

Bottled wines make up 70% of wines exported (by value), and sparkling wines account for 20% (despite only representing 9% in volume).

Bulk wine exports have decreased in volume (-5%) but increased in value (3.8%).

The five largest importers – Germany, the UK, the US, France and China – accounted for more than half of total imports.

Consumption growth stalls

World wine consumption was estimated at 246mhl in 2018: similar levels to 2017 at 243mhl. While global wine consumption dropped after the 2008/2009 economic crisis, the last three years had seen consumption rise again – although this now appears to have stalled.

This has been primarily due to a drop in consumption in China (down 6.6% to 18mhl) and the UK.

The world's largest wine consumer is the US: where consumption in 2018 grew 1.1% to 33mhl.

“A modest decline was observed in South America, except in Brazil, where 2018 consumption, at 3.6 mhl, remained virtually stable compared with 2017,” ​notes the OIV. “Consumption in most countries in Europe remained stable, with the exception of Spain (where it increased for the third consecutive year to reach 10.7 mhl in 2018), Portugal (5.5 mhl in 2018), Romania (4.5 mhl) and Hungary (2.4 mhl).

“At 4.3 mhl, South African consumption also recorded a slight decrease. In Oceania, however, compared with 2017, consumption in Australia increased by 6.1% to reach 6.3 mhl, while in New Zealand it remained almost stable at 0.9 mhl.”

Picture credits: getty/sanny11; getty/paylessimages 

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