The “definitive” source of information on wine production and consumption is the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OVI). Their latest report, on the 2017 vintage, makes concerning reading. Obviously, the figures are provisional, but their estimates have historically been very close to the final figures.

The first big message is that 2017 global wine production is the lowest it has been this century. In fact, the lowest since 1991. At 24.7 billion liters (which equates to the staggering 330 billion bottles), that is 9% down from last year. The three largest producers, responsible for almost half of the world’s production, are France, Italy and Spain. These three are reporting a 19% drop since last year due to the catastrophic results of late frosts this year. The next two large producers, USA and Australia (13% of world production) report static volumes. And that is before the impact of the recent wildfires in Napa and Sonoma are factored in. As for the rest of the world, growth of expanded wine production in countries like China is matched by a long-term decline in wine volumes in South America.

The coming shortage of wine is not going to be easy to meet. As well as a reduction in supply, demand has grown significantly over the last ten years in both established markets (like USA) and new ones such as China.

Economic theory says that if demand outstrips supply, prices will rise. But how much? Look how much the prices of things have risen since 1991. Big Mac prices (averaged across US) in 1991 were $2.25- now it is $5. But the price of wine hasn’t had anything like that sort of price hike over the same period. So maybe it is not unreasonable for wine producers to hope that at last their time may be coming. Will retailers pay more for wine to the producers? And will consumers like you, facing shortages as the 2017 vintages start to reach store shelves, be prepared to pay a bit more for favorite wines? The answer lies in your own wallet.

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