Global wine production predicted to slump to 50-year low

The Guardian

Wine producers’ body warns production will fall after Italy, France and Spain were hit by freak weather events in 2017

If you haven’t got a wine cellar, it’s time to get one and start stockpiling – because global wine production is to fall to its lowest level in more than 50 years.

On Tuesday the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) said it expected an 8% decrease in global wine production to 247m hectolitres for 2017.

The international producer group’s forecast foretells the worst global harvest since 1961, with the weather to blame, after vines in key wine-producing countries such as Italy and France were ravaged by both freakishly hot and cold weather.

A hectolitre is the equivalent to 133 standard wine bottles, so the fall in output predicted by the OIV equates to about 2.9bn fewer bottles in 2017.

The headline figure is pulled down by an “annus horribilis” in western Europe, which is on track for its worst harvest in 36 years after vineyards were exposed to adverse weather conditions that included spring frosts and a summer heatwave.

The OIV blamed “extreme weather” conditions for a disastrous year for the world’s top three producers: Italy, France and Spain. Jean-Marie Aurand, director-general of the Paris-based OIV, said its projections showed world wine production in 2017 was on course for its lowest levels for several decades.

“This drop is the consequence of climate hazards,” said Aurand. “In the European Union extreme weather events – from frost to drought – significantly impacted 2017 wine production, which was historically low.”

The news is worse for fans of chianti and prosecco, with Italy the worst hit of the big three growers. Its output is predicted to slump 23% to 39.3m hectolitres this year. Its vineyards baked in temperatures of more than 40C in a summer heatwave nicknamed Lucifer. Important growing regions such as Tuscany, Sicily, Puglia and Umbria were among those affected by the searing temperatures.

There is also pain in store for French wine buffs as the OIV predicts a 19% fall in France’s output to 36.7m hectolitres. In Spain production is also expected to fall – by 15%, to 33.5m hectolitres.

In April sharp spring frosts, which also hit British growers, damaged production in some of France’s most famous winemaking regions, including Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy. The bad weather dealt a fresh blow to the French industry, which had also endured a difficult 2016, with output falling 10% on the back of adverse weather conditions.

The shortfall is bad news for British oenophiles who regularly drop bottles of wine in their shopping trolley as inflation bites into living standards. “Prices for consumers will inevitably rise,” said Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

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