North-South Divide: Europe is short of wine. The southern hemisphere has lots of it

Taken as a whole, the 2021 global harvest is small, but some countries have produced much more than others.

OIV Director General Pau Roca presented the harvest estimates in an online press conference
OIV Director General Pau Roca presented the harvest estimates in an online press conference

The OIV expects a 2021 worldwide wine harvest of about 250m hl in 2021 - the third vintage in a row that is less generous than recent averages. In fact, according to an online conference presentation by OIV Director General Pau Roca, it is “extremely small”, and comparable to 2017.
In 2021, the northern and southern hemispheres were, he explained, moving in different directions. For the southern hemisphere, the OIV estimates the harvest volume at 59m hl, 19 per cent more than the highest previous figure. All wine-growing nations in the southern hemisphere increased their production - with the exception of New Zealand, whose 2.7m hl crop was 13 per cent less than in normal years. Its neighbour Australia had the largest crop in this region, with 14.2m hl (+14% compared with the five-year average), followed by Chile (13.4m hl, +23%), Argentina (12.5m hl, +15%) and South Africa (10.6m hl, +4%).

In the northern hemisphere, by contrast, the three big wine-growing countries have collectively dragged down volumes. Italy remains the largest producer in 2021 with 44.5m hl despite a decline of 9%. For Spain, the OIV expects a harvest that, at 35m hl, will be 14 per cent smaller than in the previous year and 9 per cent smaller than the five-year average. France follows in third place, with the most dramatic reduction from 2021 (34.2m hl, -22%).

For Germany, Portugal, Austria and Hungary, the OIV expects harvest volumes that are close to normal. In Europe, Greece suffered even greater losses than France and is expected to harvest 1.7m hl (29% less than the five-year average). Romania, however had a good crop
The OIV also expects the USA, the world's fourth largest producer, to have a near normal harvest. At 24.1m hl, volumes are expected to be 6 per cent larger than in 2020 and three per cent less than the five-year average.

The OIV has not yet been able to present any figures for China. However, it assumes a structural decline of the wine market in China, which affects both consumption and production. On the one hand, Chinese wine producers are focusing more on quality and consumer taste, on the other, the Chinese economy is no longer growing as fast as in the past. 

Globally, the OIV expects consumption to grow by two per cent compared to 2020, although this is very difficult to estimate, given the uncertainties associated with the pandemic. Nevertheless, thanks to existing stocks, there will be no overall shortage, although some regions may have less wine than they or their customers would like. 

The international wine trade has certainly been gathering steam. Compared to 2020, sales volumes grew by nine per cent with value rising by 21 per cent in the first half of this year. More significantly, volumes sold were also four per cent higher and the value six per cent higher than in the pre-pandemic days of 2019, Roca said. The OIV also suspects that the crisis in global transport has already reached its peak. 

Overall, when presenting the results, Roca was very positive about the state of the wine industry, which had come through Covid 19 much better than expected. In the end, the crisis had also promoted innovation, especially in online sales. However, climate change remains the major threat to the industry, and will need to be countered using a range of strategies. It will, he concluded, be the role of the OIV to provide the leadership that will be needed.

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