World production decreased annually by an average of 0,7% from 1990 to 1996.

However, over the same period production in the new world wine countries (Australia, Chili, Argentina, the USA and South Africa) increased by an average of 1,4% annually. Production in the European countries decreased by an average of 0,97% annually. What is more, world production is estimated to decrease even more in 1998 although it seems that the decrease may be levelling out. Production in the new world wine countries in 1998 show a decrease of 8,1% compared to 1997, largely as a result of bad weather conditions in the USA (California) and Argentina. The 1998 production in the European countries is estimated to be 2,2% higher than in 1997. In 1998 better crops are predicted in Italy, Spain and Germany.

The effect of El Nio on Californian vineyards was minimal, but heavy rains may reduce the grape crop by 20% and even more in the northern sections of California, where the producers specialise in premium wines. The total Californian wine crop is estimated at 2,6 million tons, a decrease of 11,6% compared to the 1997 record crop. The decrease will occur in spite of an increase in the hectares of wine grapes planted during 1998.

It is predicted that the total 1998 wine production in France may be reduced by 0,3% to 53,3 million hectolitres as a result of frost in the spring, early summer hail storms and late summer rains. This represents a 4% decrease compared to the average production over the past five years. Compared to 1997, a 1% decrease in the production of quality wines is foreseen, although this is 2% higher than the average for the past five years, while the production of table wine should increase by 1%.

Global mean wine production 1990 - 1998

Expectations are that the Portuguese wine production will decrease by 3% to 6,5 million hectolitres during the 1998/99 season.

The Spanish wine crop is expected to be the same as in 1997 and of an excellent quality. The area under vines has decreased from 1,6 million hectares in 1982 to 1,1 million hectares in 1997. However, during the same period the surface used for “Denomination of origin” wine production (quality wines) increased from 29,9% to 52,9% of the total surface planted with vines.

Italy’s expected crop is 53,1 million hectolitres, 5% more than in 1997. However, this is considerably less than the average production of 59 million hectolitres over the past ten years. A particularly hot summer and a long period of drought delayed the ripening process of the grapes and caused a weight reduction in the grapes in various producing areas, especially in the middle and the north of Italy. The quality is expected to be good to very good.

For 1998 the expected wine production in the four largest Southern Hemisphere wine making countries is 3 530 million litres, 3% more than in 1997. This is mainly due to increased production in Australia, Chili and South Africa, seeing that production in Argentina should decrease by 7% due to weather conditions. Wine exports are estimated at 760 million litres, 18% more than in 1997. Chili and Australia’s export should increase by 30% and 26% respectively, while South Africa’s export should increase by 10% only. Argentina’s export will increase minimally as a result of decreased production.

Chili’s wine production for 1998 is estimated at 6,4 million hectolitres, 20% more than in 1997. This reflects a significant increase in the area planted with vines which are now beginning to produce grapes as well as the termination of a three-year-long drought. Chili’s exports to Japan increased by more than 700% during the first four months of 1998.

Wine production in Australia is estimated at a record 6,4 million hectolitres (954 500 tons). Production of wine grapes should reach 1 million tons by the year 2000 with the biggest increase in premium varieties.

Argentina, the biggest producer in the southern hemisphere, has an estimated production of 12,5 million hectolitres, 7% less than in 1997. The decrease is ascribed to the unfavourable weather conditions which delayed the harvest. Premium wine exports increased by 46% in 1997 despite a decrease in total wine exports.

A record crop for 1998 is predicted in Hungary, which may produce between 4,5 and 4,8 million hectolitres of wine. A surplus is expected.

The wine crops in Austria, Luxemburg and the United Kingdom are expected to amount to 2,2 million, 170 000 and 20 000 hectolitres respectively.

The Author:

Yvette van der Merwe
Industrial economist: Strategic Information, KWV

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