Vineyards Are Shrinking Worldwide: the Evidence

Last week, in his Devil’s Advocate column, Robert Joseph made the bold – and in at least one reader’s view ‘alarmist' - prediction that 10-15% of the world’s vineyards might need to be uprooted. Here, we consider some of the evidence that supports the figures.

Reading time: 2m 45s

Vines being ripped up in France. Image: AI-Midjourney
Vines being ripped up in France. Image: AI-Midjourney

In Bordeaux, as Alexandra Wrann reports, Denis Baro, president of the Coopération Agricole Nouvelle-Aquitaine cooperative association, has told the French publication, Vitisphere, that nearly 20,000ha of Bordeaux’s 108,000ha could have been pulled up by the end of this year.

It has been clear for some time that a considerable area of vines would need to be removed as a consequence of  a massive surplus of mainly red wine in the lower and medium categories. Previously, the official area for which uprooting subsidies were approved was around 8,000ha, of which 6,000ha have already been taken out of the ground as part of a scheme whose cost will add up to €80m.

According to Baro, however, a similar area or an even larger one will suffer the same fate, whether financed by the state or by other bodies. His prognosis follows discussions with the regional co-operatives, which, with their large production volumes, are particularly hit by falling sales. This corresponds to a production loss of 10-15% for the winegrowers' cooperatives.

Is Baro’s assessment realistic? The Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux is not willing to commit itself. In response to an enquiry from Meininger’s International’s sister publication, WEINWIRTSCHAFT, the CIVB communications director, Christophe Chateau confirmed the financing of an 8,000ha vine-pull and hinted that more could be expected. However, nothing will be clear until October, when the extent of the remaining acreage can be assessed.

Elsewhere in France

Earlier in February this year, Gérard Bancillon, President of the Association of Wines with a Protected Geographical Indication (IGP), claimed that with a surplus of 5m hl of wine, over 100,000 hectares of France’s vineyards needed to be cleared. This, he said, could represent up to 15% of the land.

And, in Germany

Across the border, in Germany, in February, as we reported, the German Winegrowers' Association - DWV – has called for a ban on new planting as well as a vine-pull scheme. "The industry needs to find a new balance where supply meets demand in the long term," wrote Christian Schwörer, DWV General Secretary.


Robert Joseph sees parallels between the wine industry and a huge, dysfunctional furniture manufacturer.

Reading time: 4m


Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, California is also struggling. In 2022, as Stuart Spencer, Lodi Winegrape Commissioner told the LA Times, 400,000 tons of grapes were left unharvested and thousands of vines would need to be pulled up. This year, as Decanter reported in February, Jeff Bitter the president of California’s  highly influential Allied Grape Growers Association, said that " We have had a structural oversupply for five years, which indicates that we need to reduce our acreage in order to balance supply and demand." Bitter proposes that some 12,000 hectares of vines would need to be pulled out, mostly in the Central Valley, but also in premium regions such as Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara.

South Africa

In South Africa, as the Daily Maverick reported in February, vines have already been coming out. “Wine farming in the Northern Cape has plummeted, as farmers give up on grapes due to unprofitability and unpredictable weather patterns. Over the past five years, the province has uprooted 42.5 hectares for every hectare of vines planted, but 2022 was its worst year yet when only five hectares of vines were planted and 394 hectares were uprooted.”


A February report from Reuters quoted Jeremy Cass, director of Riverina Winegrape Growers in Australia, suggesting that “up to a quarter of the vines in areas such as Griffith [one of the most important towns in the region] must be pulled up” – around 12,000ha or 8% of  the country’s vineyards. Also referenced in the same article, Tim Mableson, a KPMG wine analyst, estimated that a larger nationwide vine-pull of 20,000ha is required. If he is correct, this would be around 13% of the total – a figure that is very close to Joseph’s 'alarmist' 15%


Ben Bentzin, Associate Professor of Instruction at the University of Texas, responds to Robert Joseph's suggestion that 15% of the world's vineyards may need to be uprooted. What are your thoughts?

Reading time: 2m 30s



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