Europe counts the bottles to still lead the wine market

Wednesday, 20 November, 2013
Laurence Girard, Guardian Weekly
As the wine harvest nears its end, Europe's wine growers seem pleased with this year's vintage. According to figures published by the International Organisation of Wine and Vine (OIV), production in the 28 countries of the European Union is set to rise by almost 11% in 2013, touching 164m hectolitres (hl).
After a bad patch in 2012 output is back to the level of 2009. Italy is still the world's top wine producer, ahead of France, with output close to 45m hl, up 2%.

After a particularly poor performance last year, volume is rising again in France (up 7%), totalling 44m hl. But it is still well below its 2011 record, when it outdid Italy.

In third place, Spain has registered the biggest increase, with output soaring by 23% this year to reach 40m hl.

These three countries account for 45% of global production, which the OIV puts at 281m hl, and two-thirds of the EU total.

The most recent member of the EU, Croatia (which joined in June 2013), contributed 1.4m hl to the overall figure. Among the other former eastern bloc countries, Romania and Hungary both did well, and output in Germany (9m hl) was steady.

This satisfactory showing in Europe should be seen in the context of a continuing decline in the area of land occupied by vineyards, though, according to the OIV, the drop was only half that of 2012. Brussels stopped subsidising the uprooting of surplus vines in 2011, following the destruction of 270,000 hectares of vine across the EU.

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