Italy overtaken by France as largest wine producer

The wine lobby groups UIV and Assoenologi in Italy said earlier this week that the country’s wine production was expected to decline by 12% to less than 44 million hectolitres this year.

Italy overtaken by France as largest wine producer
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This was due to the impact of extreme weather conditions as well as fungal diseases plaguing the country’s vineyards.

According to Reuters, this would mean that Italy would be losing its position as the world’s largest wine producer, which would return France to the number one spot for the first time in nine years.

Although Italy’s northern wine production regions were expected to see a marginal 0,8% increase in volumes, production in the central regions was expected to fall 20% and about 30% in the southern regions. This was according to a joint statement by the lobby groups and the food and agriculture institute ISMEA.

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Harvest forecast data ascribed the decline to “a combination of bad weather and the impact of a fungus called Plasmopara viticola”.

“The fungus, which attacks grapevines’ leaves and fruit, causes a disease named grape downy mildew,” Reuters said.

Riccardo Cotarella, head of the association of wine experts, Assoenologi, told Reuters: “The harvest we are facing is very complex, characterised above all by the effects of climate change, which at the end of spring and the beginning of summer caused pathogenic diseases such as downy mildew, floods, hailstorms and drought.”

Cotarella stressed, however, that the quality of the wine would not be compromised: “From the 2023 harvest we will certainly obtain good-quality wines, with peaks of excellence.”

ISMEA’s extraordinary commissioner, Livio Proietti, further assured the public that the lower volumes were not a cause for concern, as the industry currently had stock levels of more than 49 million hectolitres, which he said was the highest in six years.

“The issue is not so much the loss of the Italian leadership position in terms of volumes produced, but rather the slowdown in domestic and foreign demand, which is lowering prices,” Proietti said. He explained that one hectolitre was equivalent to 100ℓ, or 133 standard wine bottles.