Speaking from the OIV’s Paris Headquarters by web conference recently, OIV Director General Pau Roca recently presented the first estimates of 2020 world wine production.
2020’s global production seems in line with the previous year, being up 1% overall compared to 2019. After the exceptionally high production of 2018, first estimates on 2020 show – for the second consecutive year – a production volume that can be defined as ‘below average’.
“This is not necessarily to be considered as bad news for the wine sector given the current context where geopolitical tensions, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic are generating a high degree of volatility and uncertainty in the global wine market,” commented Pau Roca.
The OIV is the “intergovernmental organisation of a scientific and technical nature of recognised competence for its work concerning vines, wine, wine-based beverages, table grapes, raisins and other vine-based products”.
Based on information collected from 30 countries representing 84% of worldwide wine production in 2019, 2020 world wine production (excluding juices and musts) is estimated at between 253.9 and 262.2 million hectolitres with a mid‑range estimate at 258 million hl.
The 2020 harvests in the Northern Hemisphere were not strongly affected by Covid-19 Lockdown measures in contrast to he vine cultivation period in Springtime (April to July).
With an estimated total production of 159 million hectolitres of wine in the EU volumes were 5% higher than in 2019 but still below its average level over the past five years.
This wine production volume resulted from growers taking measures to reduce the harvest volume which had a significant impact in Italy, France and Spain notwithstanding the overall favourable climatic conditions.
In the European Union good weather conditions favoured a potentially large 2020 harvest” stated Pau Roca, “… albeit, that has been limited by different measures at both the government and producers’ association levels, aiming at mitigating the (direct and indirect) negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global wine market.
“The production volume this year is estimated at 159.0 million hl (excluding juices and musts), about 5% more than in 2019. This volume shows an annual increase of seven million hl compared with 2019.
“Overall preliminary estimates for 2020 wine production in EU countries indicate a much more heterogenous situation compared with the previous years. An example is given by the three largest producing countries where, with respect to 2019, there’s a drop of 1% in Italy (down to 47.2 mhl), an increase of 4.3% in France (to 43.9 m hl) and an 11.4% rise in Spain (to 37.5 m hl).
“It should be noted however, that all three countries, which together account for 49% of the world wine production and 81% of the EU wine production, show preliminary levels of production for 2020 that are lower or just below their last five-year averages.”
This resulted from a combination of overall favourable weather conditions during Spring and Summer and the application of regulation measures.
Germany, another large wine-producing country showed 8% growth to 8.9 m hl in 2019 while Portugal’s wine production level-pegged on 6.5 m hl and Romanian wine production saw a 7% drop to 3.6 m hl.
Also in the Northern Hemisphere outside the EU, first harvest forecasts in the US point to grape volumes on a par with 2019, possibly up by a percent, but the recent spate of wildfires there may lead to some degree of revision of this forecast.
“In the USA, the preliminary estimate for wine production is at 24.7 m hl (up 1% on 2019),” said Pau Roca, “This figure is based on USDA forecasts on the wine-grape harvest, but this figure could be significantly revised in the coming months when more information on the real effects of the wildfires in Napa and Sonoma will be available, since complications from fire and smoke taint may prevent part of the grapes from being vinified. Furthermore, the oversupply issue that characterised the last few years might also play a role in wine production decisions.
“At this time of the year, data on grapes harvest in China is not available. However, wine production is likely to continue the contraction that started in 2016 for structural reasons outlined in the OIV report on the state of the vitivinicultutral sector published in April 2020.”
In the Southern hemisphere, where harvests ended in the first trimester of 2020, preliminary figures on wine production tend to be more accurate and reliable in this period of the year.
“Regarding volumes” Pau Roca reported, “a strong decline in wine production is recorded among major producing countries with a few exceptions. It’s worth mentioning that the Covid-19 pandemic spread during the harvesting season, even though this difficulty does not seem to have impacted much the ‘volumes’ of production”
The Southern Hemisphere production estimate for 2020 is 49 m hl, down by 8% with respect to 2019.
South America is the region in the Southern Hemisphere that registered a sharper decrease with respect to 2019 production levels, especially in Argentina and Chile, due to unfavourable weather conditions.
In Argentina, 2020 wine production dropped significantly to 10.8 m hl (down 17% on 2019) due to the unfavourable weather conditions caused by El Niño.
Chile, with 10.3 m hl, recorded a 13% decline with respect to 2019 mainly due to drought. Both countries show production levels well below their last five-year average, down 13% and 10% respectively.
In South Africa, where drought significantly impacted harvests in 2018 and 2019, wine production in 2020 was estimated at 10.4 m hl, up 7%.
Australia registered a strong decline in wine production volume in 2020 of 11% to 10.6 m hl (down 16% with respect to its last five-year average). This can be partly explained by a combination of factors that reduced the production volume: the drought reduced yields, bushfires took place during the harvesting season and some of the grapes were particularly affected by smoke taint.
In New Zealand, wine production shows the opposite trend with respect to Australia and for the fourth year in its history produced a record harvest volume of 3.3 m hl in 2020 (up 11% on 2019 and up 15% compared to its last five years’ average).