Italy 2021: North vs South

While parts of Northern Italy expect to have lost as much as 25% of their 2021 crop – mainly to frost – some areas in the south of the country are  looking forward to producing 10% more than last year. Even so, it is hard to paint a consistent picture across the country as a whole.

Tuscany has to deal with the highest losses (credit: Veronika Crecelius)
Tuscany has to deal with the highest losses (credit: Veronika Crecelius)

With around 25% of Italy’s grapes having been picked on September 8th, the Unione Italiana Vino (UIV), Ismea (Istituto di Servizi per il Mercato Agricolo Alimentare) and the Assoenologi oenologists association presented their forecasts for this year’s harvest. 

They predict a crop of 44.5m hl, nine percent less than 2020‘s 49m hl. Late frosts in spring, hail in July and heat waves and drought have affected Italy's regions to varying degrees.

Tuscany the biggest loser

Tuscany, where production is likely to fall by 25% to 1.65m hl suffered the greatest losses, mainly due to those April frosts. 

In Lombardy, the situation is hardly better, with a drop of 20% (leading to a total of 1.23m hl). 

Production in Umbria is expected to see a fall of 18%, leaving 312,000 hl.

Piedmont, with expected production of 2.43m hl is looking at a loss of 10% compared to 2020 - a similar fall to Liguria (36,000 hl) and Trentino-Alto Adige (1.168m hl).

In the Marche, volumes shrink by 13% to 778,000 hl, while in Emilia-Romagna (with 6.71m hl) and Sardinia (404,000 hl), the figure is likely to be 15%.

Surprisingly perhaps, some of the – relatively – luckier regions were in the north of the country, with Veneto (10.8 mill hl), Friuli (1.72 mill hl) and the small Valle d'Aosta (18,000 hl) each losing 7%. 

Few winners all from southern Italy

In the south of the country, there were losers too. Apart from Abruzzo (down by 18% at 1.23m hl), Molise lost 13% (200,000 hl) and Basilicata expects a fall of 10% (65,000 hl). Puglia saw the lightest losses, with a decline of 5% (8.55m hl).

However, three southern regions are looking at larger crops than in 2020. Campania’s 5 percent rise should give it 751,000 hl, while smaller Calabria’s 10% could produce 106,000 hl. More significantly, however, the productive region of Sicily is hoping for a 9% increase. The 3.99m hl of wine it produces this year will be invaluable in preventing Italy from suffering the falls in total volumes that have been seen in France.

General quality is described as good to excellent, though early analyses reveal some problems in the balance between acidity and medium-high alcohol levels. 

Irrespective of quality, however, price rises are seen as inevitable by Ismea, following a 3% fall during the 2020/2021 campaign. Even without a short crop, there are pressures from growing export and domestic demand, and increased production costs. 

As France and Spain record their own reduced harvests (the latter’s will probably be below 40m hl), Italy will retain its crown as the world's largest volume wine producer.
 

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