Pau Roca, Director General of OIV gives his overview of the 2019 global wine sector and the impact of Covid-19

Speaking from the OIV’s [International Organisation of Vine and Wine] headquarters in Paris, by web conference to over 3,000 international wine journalists, and trade, Director-General Pau Roca presented today [April 23, 2020] details of the 2019 wine production, consumption, and international trade. The impact of Covid-19 in the sector was also highlighted.

Here are the important facts and highlights of today’s Conference:

  • The surface area of the world vineyard is estimated at 7.4 mha, which has been stable since 2016;
  • World wine production is estimated at 260 mhl, a marked decrease, compared to 2018 historically high;
  • World wine consumption is estimated at 244 mhl, marking a +0.1% with respect to the previous year;
  • The world wine export market has expanded both in volume, estimated at 105.8 mhl (+1.7%), and in value with 31.8 bn EUR (+0.9%);
  • 2020 Harvest – first estimates of wine production in the Southern Hemisphere indicate low expected volumes for 2020 (with the exception of South Africa and Uruguay).

Vineyard area stabilization

In 2019 the world area under vines, corresponding to the total surface area planted with vines for all purposes, including young vines not yet in production, is estimated 7.4 mha.

Starting with the Northern Hemisphere, overall stability can be observed in the European Union (EU) vineyards, which stands for the fifth consecutive year at 3.2 mha.

Within the EU, the latest available data for 2019 indicates an increase in the area under vines in France (794 kha), Italy (708 kha), Portugal (195 kha), and Bulgaria (67 kha). The vineyard surface area in Spain (966 kha), Hungary (69 kha) and Austria (48 kha), on the other hand, slightly decreased from 2018.

In East Asia, after over 10 years of significant expansion, the growth of Chinese vineyard (855 kha), second in the world by surface area just behind Spain, seems to be slowing down.

In the United States, the vineyard has been consistently decreasing since 2014, and its estimated surface area in 2019 is 408 kha.

In South America, developments in vineyard surface area between 2018 and 2019 showed a downward trend for the fourth year in a row.

The only exception in the continent is represented by Peru that increased by 7.1 kha (+17% / 2018) its vineyard surface area reaching 48 kha.

South Africa’s vineyard surface area remained stable with respect to 2018, at 128 kha.

Australia the area under vines remained stable at 146 kha in 2019; while New Zealand the surface area grew by 1.6 % reaching a record-high of 39 kha.

Production back to the average

World wine production, excluding juices and musts, in 2019 is estimated at 260 (259,0) mhl, marking a sharp decrease of 35 mhl (-11.5%) with respect to the exceptionally high volume recorded in 2018. Overall, after two consecutive years that can be defined as extremely volatile, 2019 brings global wine production back to average levels.

Italy  (47.5  mhl), France (42.1 mhl), and Spain (33.5  mhl), which together account for 48% of world wine production in 2019, saw a sharp decrease in their wine production with respect to 2018.

Other EU countries that registered a decrease in production with respect to 2018 are Germany (9.0 mhl, -12%), Romania (5.0 mhl, -4%), Austria (2.5 mhl, -10%), Hungary (2.4 mhl, -34%) and Greece (1.9 mhl, -8%). The only EU country that, in 2019, saw an increase in its wine production is Portugal with 6.7 mhl (+10% / 2018).

In Eastern Europe, weather conditions were favourable in Russia (4.6 mhl, +7% / 2018) and Ukraine (2.1 mhl, +6% / 2018), while in Moldova the harvest was less abundant in 2019 and the vinified production was equal to 1.5 mhl (-23% / 2018).

In Asia, the new data available for China indicate an estimated vinified production of 8.3 mhl in 2019, marking a decrease of -10% with respect to the already relatively low production level of 2018.

In North America, wine production in the USA is estimated at 24.3 mhl, a decrease of 2% compared to 2018. This slight decline in 2019 does not depend on bad weather conditions or the raging fires that occurred in California (harvest was just before), but it is a response to overcome an oversupply of grapes and wine.

In South America, the overall trend for wine production in 2019 is negative with respect to 2018. However, while in Argentina (13.0 mhl) and in Chile (12.0 mhl) 2019 vinified productions are lower with respect to 2018 but overall in line or even higher than their five-year averages, Brazil (2.0 mhl) registered a sharp decrease in its wine production in 2019 of more than 1 mhl (-34% / 2018).

In South Africa, 2019 production reached 9.7 mhl. This represents an increase of +3% with respect to the low volume registered in 2018, but it is still far from the average production levels recorded before the beginning of the drought that heavily impacted the country for three years in a row (2016, 2017 and 2018).

With regard to Oceania, Australian wine production registers a decline for the second consecutive year reaching 12.0 mhl in 2019 (-6% / 2018). In New Zealand wine production was 3.0 mhl in 2019, a slight decrease of -1% with respect to 2018.

Expansion of the international trade of wine

In 2019 the world wine export market – considered here as the sum of the exports of all countries – has expanded with respect to 2018 both in volume, estimated at 105.8 mhl (+1.7%), and in value, with 31.8 bn EUR2 (+0.9%).

Strong increases can be observed in exports from Italy (+2.0 mhl), Spain (+1.3 mhl), Canada (+0.4 mhl) and Chile (+0.3 mhl). However, significant reductions in exports are recorded for Australia (-1.1 mhl), South Africa (-1.0 mhl), Ukraine (-0.4 mhl) and Hungary (-0.3 mhl).

In 2019 the global value of wine exports is on the sustained growth path started in 2010 reaching a new record high. France was still the most important world exporter in terms of value, with 9.8 bn EUR exported in 2019. There were rises in the value of exports in many large exporting countries like France (+425 m EUR), Italy (+211 m EUR), and New Zealand (+84 m EUR). The largest declines include Spain (-234 m EUR) and South Africa (-73 m EUR).

In 2019 the international trade of wine in terms of volume was mainly dominated by three European countries – Italy, Spain, and France – that together exported 57.1 mhl, accounting for 54% of the world market.

In 2019 the top three importers in terms of volumes were Germany, the UK, and the USA, which together imported 40.4 mhl, reaching 38% of world total. These three countries represent 39% of the total value of world wine imports, reaching 11.9 bn EUR.

The first importer in 2019 is still Germany with 14.6 mhl, even if its wine import volume decreases by 0.6% compared to 2018.

China for the second consecutive year saw a significant decline in its imported volumes (-11% / 2018), reaching 6.1 mhl in 2019. In terms of value, the trend is similar, with an overall downfall of -9.7% compared to 2018, reaching 2.1 bn EUR. The only category that increased both its volume (+8%) and its value (+8%) is sparkling wine, although it represents only 2% of the total imported volume.

Early estimates of the 2020 harvest in the Southern Hemisphere

First estimates of wine production in the Southern Hemisphere indicate low expected volumes for 2020 for the majority of countries, with the exception of South Africa and Uruguay.

In 2020 a decline in production volumes in all South American countries, with the exception of Uruguay, are expected. In Argentina estimated production is 11.6 mhl (-11%), in Chile 10.5 mhl (-12%) and in Brazil 2.0 mhl (-1%), while in Uruguay 0.65 mhl (+11%).

South Africa seems to continue its recovery path from the drought and expects +5% with respect to last year, reaching 10.2 mhl.

In Oceania, Australia expects a lower production level in 2020 estimated at 11.5 mhl (-4%) due to drought and bushfires while in New Zealand (2.9 mhl, -2%) expectations on wine production are by and large in line with 2019, or just below.

These are preliminary estimates and should be interpreted with caution,  given the current exceptional circumstances.

Impact of Covid-19 in the wine sector

At this early stage the information and statistical data available are insufficient to provide an accurate forecast and anticipate the scenario of the vitivinicultural sector in the future. However, due to communication with OIV members (“Member States”), the OIV has certain qualitative information at its disposal.

The feedback given by the Member States reflects a radical change or transfer between distribution channels. The expected overall balance is a decrease in consumption, a reduction in average prices, and therefore an overall decrease in total sales value, turnover, margins and finally profits of the wineries.

As far as exports are concerned, economies in recession are not a promising market to develop, and during this pandemic, the largest consuming countries have been the most affected. Trade flows may recover along with the economy, but some permanent changes could occur.

Alcohol consumption is also being debated. Messages on the positive effects of wine consumption are totally unacceptable and irresponsible.

The same applies to the issuing, under these circumstances, of general statements or biased messages that are the result of ideological concerns about wine consumption, such as abstention.

The OIV’s work follows the Strategic Plan approved by the General Assembly in October 2019 and covers a 5-year period until 2024. In the current context, the objectives and goals of the OIV go hand in hand with the needs that this crisis has highlighted.

The OIV is the intergovernmental organization of scientific and technical nature of recognized competence for its work concerning vines, wine, wine-based beverages, and other vine-based products. It is composed of 47 Member States. In the framework of its competence, the objectives of the OIV are as follows:

  • to inform its members of measures whereby the concerns of producers, consumers and other players in the vine and wine products sector may be taken into consideration;
  • to assist other international organizations, both intergovernmental and non-governmental, especially those that carry out standardization activities; and
  • to contribute to international harmonization of existing practices and standards and, as necessary, to the preparation of new international standards in order to improve the conditions for producing and marketing vine and wine products, and to help ensure that the interests of consumers are taken into account.

Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 3 of 3] — VDP “Große Lage” Seminar and Tasting

A special trade seminar was held the following morning with a specific focus on VDP “Große Lange.” The seminar was held in the beautiful Kurhaus Wiesbaden, which is unmistakable Wiesbaden’s landmark. This magnificent neoclassical building is the city’s convention center.

VDP stands for Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (or the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates). It was founded as a regional association in the Rheingau over a hundred years ago with the goal of recognizing and encouraging quality producers of dry wines.

The VDP has selected and classified the best German vineyard sites coming from all 13 of the country’s wine-producing regions. In 2019, there are 200 members. The logo for VDP is an eagle with grapes on his chest. If you see this logo on a bottleneck, you know that it comes from one of the best vineyards in Germany and is a trustworthy guarantee for the quality within. VDP has four classifications:

VDP Gutswein –  these are often the first wines of a wine year to be bottled and sold. They must come from estate-grown grapes and the producers are given freedom here to experiment and innovate.

VDP Ortsweine – these are wines that express regionality. The grapes must come from one village and offer a sense of expression of that particular place. Only regional grape varieties are used, and many come from the higher-classified Grosse Lage or Erste Lage sites.

VDP Erste Lage – these wines are Premier Cru from first-class vineyards where there are optimal growing conditions. These wines must also be grown with a view to sustainability and tradition.

VDP Grosse Lage – these wines come from the highest quality German vineyards. They are complex, express single vineyard sites, and are known for their long-aging. These wines also must also be grown and made with a view to sustainability and tradition.

Membership is by invitation only, and with producers known for long-standing quality and a commitment to excellence.  Members must also adhere to strict rules including low yields, higher starting must weights, selective hand harvesting, and five-yearly inspections.

Promotion remains a major aspect of its activities. The VDP has developed its own quality pyramid based on the official German system,  with a specific focus on dry wines. Recently, they introduced a new classification for Sekt, German sparkling wine.

5% of Germany’s vineyards are included in the VDP classification, accounting for 7.5% of the turnover of the German wine industry.

Riesling is the most important grape among VDP producers with 55% of all VDP vineyards planted with Riesling, compared to 23% across Germany as a whole.

 

 

Other grape varieties approved for VDP Grosse Lage certification include:

Chardonnay

Weissburgunder

Spätburgunder

Grauburgunder

Frühburgunder

Traminer

Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 2 of 3]

I recently traveled with fourteen wine journalists and industry professionals to Rheinhessen Germany, one of my favorite wine regions in Germany!

We soaked up Weingut Wagner-Stempel (wine festival in Siefersheim), attended a master workshop on the “Top Terroirs of Rheinhessen”, indulged in pinot noir tasting with local producers, along with other pleasant vinous, gastronomic and cultural surprises. The five-day program also took us to wineries in and around the heart of the region.  We were in the accompaniment of Ulrike Lenhardt and Ernst Buscher of The German Wine Institute, and Romana Echensperger, MW.

The following day we attended Winzerkeller Ingelheim to attend a Pinot Noir tasting with local producers.

This historic building epitomized Ingelheim’s history as the “red wine town”. Winzerkeller Ingelheim has just finished a three-year renovation project and we were lucky to visit it, upon its completion! Winzerkeller Ingelheim is not only home to a local vinotheque of 24 Ingelheim winegrowers, it’s also a distillery, restaurant, and a tourist information center.

We participated in a Pinot Noir tasting with the following wineries:

Winzerkeller Ingelheim website: www.ingelheimer-winzerkeller.de

Next on our visit was the wine festival in Siefersheim “Tage der offenen Weinkeller”.  Here we visited local wine cellars, tasted regional culinary specialties, and sipped some wonderful Rieslings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is Siefersheim?

Siefersheim is a village southwest of Bad Kreuznach, in Rheinhessen This quaint village has a population of 1,300 and it lends its name to a number of vineyards, two of which, Heerkretz and Höllberg, are highly regarded sites with VDP classifications. Of the district’s 628 hectares, 172 ha are under vine, with Riesling occupying the bulk of the vineyards.

On our next stop we visited Weingut Thörle, which is in the village of Saulheim. Saulheim is located in the north-eastern fringes of Rheinhessen. Thörle is a family-run estate since the 16th century and is regarded as one of the best producers in the region.

Now leading the winery are two brothers Christoph and Johannes. They tell us that their focus is mainly on Riesling, Silvaner, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. The vineyards are managed organically, and the estate has taken a biodynamic direction. The Soils are also varied with light clay, limestone, red sandy loam with some flint and schist. In our conversation, we learn that they obtain their distinctive, sappy Riesling characteristics and delicate Pinot Noir from the calcareous limestone-soils of Saulheim’s single vineyards Hölle, Schlossberg and Probstey.

 

Their wines are full of character, possess a depth of flavor and boast a high potential for maturing. Thörle’s wines have received international acclaim by leading wine guides and critics, as well as been selected by first-class airline wine programs.

Weingut Thörle website: http://www.thoerle-wein.de

 

At the end of the day, we attended a grand tasting at Weingut Hoffmann and Weingut Willems-Willems Estate.

Weingut Hofmann is jointly led and owned by the winemaker couple Jürgen Hofmann and Carolin Hofmann. This couple have taken over their families’ wine estates, Jürgen in 1999, and Carolin in 2001. Since 2006, both wineries have come under one roof, hence the two names: Weingut Hofmann in Weingut Willems-Willems.

Weingut Hofmann was founded in 1971 in Appenheim, when Jürgen’s parents converted their mixed agricultural operation into a winery  Jürgen pushed winemaking at Weingut Hofmann to new levels, by investing into new wine cellar equipment, focusing on the best vineyards, and planting new grape varieties, as well as built an ultra-modern winery including a tasting room.mHofmann’s 14 hectares. vineyards are limestone based.

Jurgen produces Riesling as well as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Silvaner. His Rieslings and Sauvignons that really wowed me. The limestone dominated soils surrounding Appenheim in his Riesling burst with stony spice and minerality. Aromas of dried apricots and exotic spice dance hand in hand in a racy yet breathtakingly elegant tango.

Jurgen’s Sauvignon Blanc grapes are harvested sequentially from multiple sites (as each vineyard reaches its own optimal ripeness). Tasting notes include notes of gooseberry, elderberry, and green asparagus blend with a tropical breeze reminiscent of the variety’s origins.

Weingut Hoffmann and Weingut Willems-Willems Estate website: www.schiefer-trifft-muschelkalk.de

Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 1 of 3]

I recently traveled with fourteen wine journalists and industry professionals to Rheinhessen Germany, one of my favorite wine regions in Germany.

We soaked up Weingut Wagner-Stempel (wine festival in Siefersheim), attended a master workshop on the “Top Terroirs of Rheinhessen”, indulged in pinot noir tasting with local producers, along with other pleasant vinous, gastronomic and cultural surprises. The five-day program also took us to wineries in and around the heart of the region.  We were in the accompaniment of Ulrike Lenhardt and Ernst Buscher of The German Wine Institute, and Romana Echensperger, MW.

Rheinhessen is Germany’s largest wine-producing region and also rich in history – the area was ruled by archbishops throughout the Middle Ages up to the French Revolution.

Mainz, the capital of Rheinhessen is also one of 16 states in the Federal Republic of Germany. Its unique location in Rheinhessen (also known as “The Land of the Thousand Hills”) makes it ideally suited for growing wines. There are over 3,500 winegrowers in the region producing some of Germany’s best white varieties such as Dornfelder, Riesling, Silvaner, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Grigio. Rheinhessen (or Rhein District) is located north of the Rhine River going west from Wiesbaden and ending around Rüdesheim. The Rheinhessen wine region is 35 kilometers from east – west, and 3 kilometers from north – south. Almost 80% of wines from this area are Rieslings, other white wines account for 10% of production, and Pinot Noir accounts for 10% of all production.

The top vineyards are concentrated long the steep west bank of the Rhine, known as the Rheinterrasse (Rhine terrace), and towards the south towards the town of Worms, and around the village of Westhofen.

Our Rheinhessen experience began with a vineyard walk and tasting at Roter Hang – Brudersberg “Schönste Weinsicht”.

The view from the Niersteiner Brudersberg was absolutely stunning!  It was awarded by the German Wine Institute “The Most Beautiful Wine View” in 2012 across all 13 German wine-growing regions. From the vantage points, we saw spectacular views of the Rheinhessen wine landscape. From Brudersberg we had optimal views to Hessian Ried to Frankfurt (east), looking northeast the Taunus with the Great Feldberg, and looking southeast to the bend in the Rhine at Oppenheim to the Odenwald with the Melibokus. We were also in the middle of Oelberg, Kranzberg, Pettenthal, Hipping and Spiegelberg, Brudersberg which are also located on the Red Slope of Nierstein –  its Rieslings, are among the best in the world.  We had the privilege of tasting with a group of five energetic, young producers and winemakers, who are committed to breaking free of the region’s bulk-based past and exemplifies Rheinhessen’s wine revolution.

–  Weingut Guntrum – www.guntrum.de

–  Weingut Raddeck – www.raddeckwein.de

–  Weingut Schätzel – www.schaetzel.de

–  Weingut Huff – www.weingut-huff.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was quite a remarkable and memorable tasting due to the historical location and sipping local wines!  The Weingut Raddeck wines stood out. I found out by the producer that the wines are not only sustainable, they use geothermal heating, solar panels as well as recyclable rainwater. The Raddeck Family and their ancestors have been winegrowers for over 10 Generations.

The Guntrum vineyards are located on one of the most exciting terroirs for Riesling in Germany, the Roter Hang (or Red slope hillside). The Rotliegend was created over 280 million years ago in a very hot and dry period. By some geologic activity 45 million years ago, this red rock came up to the surface. The soil is high in iron and the wines from this area have a distinct minerality and elegance which certainly showed through at the tasting.

The next stop on our venture was Weingut Domhof and Grape Escape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This historic wine estate has not only been a family-owned business since 1874 it now serves as the birthplace of great wine for the fifth generation. Since 2004, Domhof has been owned and operated by Alexander Baumann, the great-great-grandson Schmitts, and his wife Chris. At least 35% of their 10 hectares is Reisling, along with other white varieties: Silvaner, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Kerner. The red varieties include: Schwarzriesling, Pinot Noir, Portugieser, Regent and Dornfelder. The philosophy of Alexander, the head winemaker, is reflected in his vineyard maintenance, and consistent yield reduction.  The historical house motto states “quality arises in the vineyard”.

Domhof produces nine Rieslings from their vineyards, which are located in Guntersblumer Himmelthal, Niersteiner Heiligenbaum, Niersteiner Paterberg and Niersteiner Pettenthal. Each Riesling I tasted impressed me with their individual character, and expressive bouquet.  Alexander Baumann explains to us that it’s due to the microclimate and the characteristics of the three soils in his vineyards: Löss limestone and the sandstone slopes of Roter Hang.

Also located on the premises is the three-star hotel “Schlafgut Domhof”, an event area for wedding and family celebrations, and Grape Escape. This award-winning concept is an escape room which is a wine-focus adventure game involving solving puzzles and riddles, using clues, hints and strategies.

The Domhof winery was awarded the second “Best of Wine Tourism Award 2019” by the Great Wine Capitals in the category “Architecture, Parks and Gardens”

https://weingut-domhof.de/

In the afternoon we headed to Gut Leben am Moorstein to attend a specially designed workshop led by Romana Echensperger, MW on the Top Terroirs of Rheinhessen. Romana guided us in 5 Flights with 5 wines in each flight and discussed the soils and varieties of the area.

From the diverse soils to the above-average sunny days and varying microclimates, Rheinhessen produces many varieties. Silvaner is common here as well as the Pinot varietals: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir.

The terroir ranges from red soil, sandstone, to gravel, chalky, soils with pebbles, which produce wines with earthy qualities. Whereas, the vineyards around Westhofen largely consist of marl and calcareous soil, which can have some tinted red due to the high concentration of iron. The wines of this area are well -balanced and tend to be soft, and medium-bodied.  Ingelheim is well-known for its Pinot Noirs.

Wineries presented that reflect the region’s unique taste of place, include:

– Weingut Klaus-Peter Keller – www.keller-wein.de

– Weingut Seehof – Florian Fauth- www.weingut-seehof.de

– Weingut Rettig – Katja Rettig – www.weingut-rettig.de

– Weingut Katharina Wechsler – www.weingut-wechsler.de

– Weingut Gutzler – www.gutzler.de

 

PART 2 TO FOLLOW …Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 2 of 3]