World wine lake grows

(by peter)

The latest release of statistics by the International Office of Vine and Wine (OIV) is hardly the most racy or headline-grabbing of events.

But OIV Director General Federico Castellucci tried his best to inject a bit of drama into proceedings when releasing the figures at a press conference in Paris. He used the following analogy to portray the current dynamics in the world of wine, which essentially comprise disappearing vineyards, falling production and consumption, and faltering global exports.

“It’s as if in 2009,” he proclaimed, “the German vineyard had been uprooted, the Australians and Danes no longer drank wine, the Portuguese did not export anything and the Swiss did not produce any wine.”

Why is it the Swiss always get dragged into these things?

The OIV figures are well worth close scrutiny, especially for those interested in the ever-shifting eddies and currents in the world of wine.

It’s important to mention as a caveat from the outset that the OIV’s figures are neither comprehensive nor set in stone.  The OIV has 43 member states which contribute information, but non-members include China (estimated to have the world’s fifth largest vineyard) along with many other Asian countries, Canada, UK and the newer members of the EU. Information regarding these non-affiliated members is thus a matter of conjection – albeit well-informed conjecture.

Also, in the latest report, the 2009 figures are “projected data” while the 2008 figures are still considered to be “provisional data”.

Nonetheless, the report highlights some interesting trends from 2009:


  • In 2009, the world vineyard (including that used for purposes other than wine) is thought to have declined by 93,000 hectares (ha) to reach 7.6 million ha. Vineyard plantings are more or less stable in non-EU countries; the decline was largely fuelled by the ongoing trend of subsidised grubbing up in the EU.

Wine production

  • World wine production in 2009 – some 266 million hectolitres (hl), or 26.6 billion litres – is said to be “low”, similar to totals recorded in 2001, 2003, 2007 and 2008. Italy remains the world’s biggest wine producer, with 47.7 million hl.

Wine consumption

  • As regards consumption patterns, total global wine consumption is estimated at around 236.6 million hl, which means that the world now drinks around one billion litres less wine than it did at the start of 2008 (bucking the trend of growth since the mid-1990s). This, the OIV notes, “is undoubtedly attributable to the general economic crisis”, though it’s significant to note that the trend for declining consumption in traditional producer countries (which have historically had eyebrow-raisingly high consumption levels) is a long-term one. However, it’s also interesting to note that even the USA, the great white hope of global wine markets, fell back in 2009 (by 2.5%), while the UK was also down slightly.

World wine trade

  • Global exports decreased for the first time since 2000 – the global downturn may have affected this, as might have turbulent currency markets and unfavourable exchange rates for importing countries. Argentina, USA, Spain and France were significant sliders in export terms, while the likes of Italy, Chile and Australia saw growth.

Global wine surplus

  • All this means that the global wine surplus for 2009 is estimated at around 29.4 million hl, a figure which has grown from 24m hl in 2008 and 18.9m hl in 2007. This, the OIV report soberly notes, will be good for the market of “brandy and wines destined for industrial use”.

The report is even sufficiently up-to-date and detailed to mention the effects of the earthquake in Chile…even though you could argue the true extent of the damage hasn’t been officially quantified yet.

The full report can be accessed by clicking here.

(As a postscript, we were delighted to meet OIV head Federico Castelluci at the Vinitaly gala dinner where we received our IWSC Communicator of the Year 2010 award. We had a good chat about much of the above…report to follow.)