Global surge in organic vineyard surface area

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/morsaimages
Pic:getty/morsaimages

Related tags: Organic, Wine

Nearly half a million hectares worldwide are today dedicated to organic vines: with most of this in Europe but with organic vineyards gaining ground across other continents.

A new report from The OIV shows that more than three quarters of global organic vineyard area is found in Europe: but 63 countries worldwide now have at least 1,000ha of organically managed vineyards. 

In total, 6.2% of the world's vineyards were organic in 2019, according to the report. 

8% growth per year

The rate of conversion of vineyards to organic production has increased considerably since the beginning of the 21st century.

Between 2005 and 2019, the certified organic vineyard surface area increased by an average of 13% per year, while the non-organic vineyard area decreased by an average of 0.4% per year.

One of the factors explaining this intense growth rate is the fact that certified organic viticulture is still a recent phenomenon.

Growth has come in peaks and troughs, however: organic surface areas grew exponentially between 2005 and 2011 (+18% per year on average), only to slow down between 2011 and 2014 to an average annual rate of +4%. From 2014 onwards, the growth rate increased again to an average of +8% per year.

Spain: the world’s largest organic wine producer

In 2019, a total of 63 countries across all continents were involved in organic viticulture and the certified organic vineyard surface area was estimated at 454 kha, representing 6.2% of the world’s total area under vines.

Organic vineyards, however, are very much concentrated in certain areas: 10 countries account for 91% of the world total.

The top three markets – Spain, France and Italy - account for the 75% of organic vineyards in the world total distribution and putting Europe at the front of the organic wine movement. While these countries are already the world’s largest wine producers in any case, another reason for their emphasis on organic vineyards is that certain EU policies have encouraged the development of organic areas, particularly vineyards.

Spain is world’s leading organic producer by area, accounting for 27% of the world’s organic vineyard area, with Castile-La Mancha, Catalonia and Valencia representing the main regions.

France comes close behind: accounting for 25% of the world’s organic vineyard area. The sector is being driven by domestic demand (on average only 40% of organic wines are exported), with organic vineyards centered around the Mediterranean basin.

Italy, meanwhile, accounts for 24% of the global total: with Sicily, Apulia and Tuscany being the main regions. In contrast to France, Italy’s organic market is mainly export-oriented, with around 85% of organic wines exported per year.

These top three markets are followed by the US (4%), Turkey (3%) China (3%) Germany (2%), Austria (1%) Greece (1%) and Argentina (1%).

Organic vineyards in the US represent 3.6% of the world total.

“In the US – the world’s largest market for organic agricultural produce – these products are increasingly becoming part of consumer habits,"​ notes the report. "Growth in organic surface areas has been slower than in other countries with similarly large organic vineyard areas. Certified organic areas still fluctuate considerably, with vineyards moving in and out of the organic system.”

European countries dominate organic vineyards not only in terms of total area but as a percentage of the country's total vineyard area.

Italy devotes 15% of its vineyards to organic viticulture, followed by France (14%) and Austria (14%) and Spain (13%). The only non-European country inside the top 10 is Mexico, with 8% of its vineyard area certified organic.

The OIV, however, notes the challenges for organic vineyards and trends can fluctuate as a result.

“Behind this growth in the world’s organic vineyards, there is nonetheless significant movement in both an upwards and downwards direction, since the conversion of a vineyard to organic cultivation is often complex and requires a considerable amount of adaptation. Weather phenomena or structural and/or organisational issues may drive producers to abandon their certification in organic production, resulting in a local decrease in organic vineyard areas. In addition, the typically lower yields in organic viticulture can also be a reason for withdrawing from a label or certification. These factors, which have an impact on the surface area, vary greatly from one country to another depending on the weather conditions of the vintage.”

The full report can be found here​.

Related topics: Markets, Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider

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