According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), extremely low world wine production volume is expected in 2021, but the impact on the global wine sector is yet to be evaluated due to uncertainties brought by COVID-19.
This year’s volume is estimated between 247.1 and 253.5 mhl, with a mid-range estimate at 250.3 mhl. It has fallen by 4% compared to 2020, which was already below average, and is also 7% lower than its 20-year average. The figure is only slightly above the historically low volume of 2017 which is 248 mhl.
As major wine producing European Union (EU) countries in the northern hemisphere, including Italy, Spain and France, are hit by late spring frost and unfavourable climate conditions, this would be the third consecutive year where the global production level is below average.
The devastating drop was only balanced by the relatively stable harvest from the US and record-high production volume from the southern hemisphere.
Data on grape harvest in China was not immediately available but OIV expects a contraction due to structural problems including difficult climate conditions, technological constraints and overall low productivity.
Northern hemisphere suffers from harsh climate
In the EU, 2021’s wine production is estimated at 145 mhl, which is an annual decrease of 21 mhl (-13%) compared to 2020. The overall estimate shows a heterogeneous picture as countries are affected by different weather conditions throughout the year.
Italy, Spain and France, representing 45% of world wine production and 79% of EU wine production, are the most unfortunate regions for 2021.
Among the three, France is expected to suffer the hardest (-27%) drop after crippled by severe spring frost, summer rain, hailstorms and mildew.
Italy, although suffering from a 9% drop in production from 2020 and its 5-year average, still ranked as largest wine producer in the EU. Spain ranked as the second largest wine producer in 2021 but its production level is a 14% decline from 2020 and 9% cut from its 5-year average.
Other EU countries with negative growth with respect to 2020 are Slovenia (-26%), Greece (-26%), Croatia (-13%) Austria (-4%) and Slovakia (-2%).
On the other hand, some producers still expect a positive growth compared with 2020. Germany, the fourth largest European wine producer, has an estimated production volume increase of 4%, even though the late spring frost heavily affected its neighbouring countries.
Another large producer, Romania, anticipates the largest surge of 37% in wine production from last year and a 29% level above its last 5-year average.
Other regions with expected increase include Bulgaria (7%), Hungary (+6%), Czech Republic (+2%) and Portugal (+1%).
Outside the EU, 2021’s wine production for the US is estimated at 24.1 mhl (+6%). However it is 3% lower than its 5-year average as its previous production suffered from wildfires and smoke taint last year, and drought-like conditions in summer.
The harvest in Eastern Europe is overall positive. Wine production in Georgia is estimated to increase by 22% with a record-high level of 2.2 mhl. Moldova also is estimated to make a large increase of 20% despite late frost and heavy rains. Russia’s production level is estimated to increase by 2%.
Meanwhile, Switzerland is expected to have the lowest volume in 20 years and a 10% decline from last year due to the April frost followed by hail and mildew.
Southern hemisphere sees steep increase
The southern wine regions can finally escape from unfavorable weather in 2020 and welcome a sharp wine production increase this year, with a 19% surge to record-high 59 mhl level from last year.
Not bothered by the El Nino effect, South America anticipates several breakthroughs in wine production. The largest wine producer Chile reached its peak production volume in 20 years with a 30% volume increase from 2020. Brazil sees the largest volume since 2008 by a 60% surge from 2020 and 46% surge from 5-year average. Argentina’s production is also estimated to increase by 16%.
Although it has suffered from prolonged drought starting in 2016, South Africa’s production volume will grow for the third consecutive year and record a 2% increase.
Australia registered the highest harvest since 2006 with a notable 30% increase from last year. Previously hit by fires and droughts, the 2021 harvest is blessed by mild temperatures and low disease pressure.
New Zealand is the only exception in the southern hemisphere with lower wine production. Faced with late spring frost, the production will decrease by 19% from last year.