While Europe Faces a Grape Harvest Decline, France Shines

The EU Commission reports a wine harvest 6% lower than in 2022, while the French Ministry of Agriculture's third harvest forecast expects levels above its five-year average.

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Mechanical harvesting was challenging in many EU regions due to high fungal pressure (Photo: German Wine Institute/DWI)
Mechanical harvesting was challenging in many EU regions due to high fungal pressure (Photo: German Wine Institute/DWI)

The European Commission anticipates a lower wine harvest volume in its member states, as reported by the Reuters agency. Especially due to shortfalls in major producer countries, Spain and Italy, the total harvest volume of EU states is about 6% below that of the previous year. The Union estimates a total of around 150m hectoliters, with significant losses recorded for Italy (-12%) and Spain (-14%).

Italy, based on these estimates, will likely lose its position as the world's largest wine producer to France — even when taking into account the European Commission's initial estimate for the French harvest, which stood at 45m hectolitres. Since then, France has revised its harvest expectations upward to around 46m hectolitres, putting it roughly at last year's level and 3% above the five-year average.

Unpredictable weather patterns disrupt harvests

The decrease in Italy's harvest is mainly attributed to adverse weather conditions and high fungal pressure. In contrast, heat and drought have been the primary culprits in Spain. Fungal infections due to heavy rainfall, as well as losses from storms and hail, were also significant concerns for Eastern Europe, Germany, and parts of France, such as Bordeaux. Other French regions faced droughts, similar to Spain.

Revised French forecast

Based on the latest forecast from the French Ministry of Agriculture on October 6, 2023, France is now expected to harvest about 46m hectoliters. This figure is 1m hectolitres more than the September forecast, as reported by the statistical service, Agreste. Compared to the average yield since 2018, this represents a slight increase of 3% and is almost on par with the 2022 harvest.

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South Africa experienced a cool harvest season that resulted in low volumes for the 2023 vintage.

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The heightened expectation is attributed to an above-average harvest in the Charentes, which specialises in brandy and liqueur. Contrary to the last forecast, they recorded about 12m hectolitres, marking an 18% increase from the previous year and 26% more than the five-year average.

In Languedoc-Roussillon, the prolonged drought throughout the growth period, paired with intense heatwaves, has further reduced the September forecast (11.6m hl) to an expected 10.7m. This is 15% less than in 2022 and a 10% decrease compared to the average since 2018.



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