The biggest wine producers in the world – here’s where South Africa sits

The latest data from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) shows that South Africa has slipped down the rankings of the world’s biggest wine producers, as a three-year drought in hit output.

Global wine production in 2018 showed a recovery from the 60-year lows experienced in 2017, with total output hitting above late 2018 projections at 292.3mhl (million hectolitres).

One hectolitre represents 100 litres, or around 133 standard 750ml wine bottles.

Wine production totalled 250 mhl in 2017, down 8.6% from 2016 – the lowest level since 1957, when production had fallen to 173.8 mhl.

The OIV noted that global area under vines has remained fairly stable, though is showing a declining trend. This has been attributed to changing climate conditions around the world.

However, there are major wine-producing regions which are growing their vine areas, with Italy increasing space by 5 kha to 706 kha in total. Spain remains the biggest producer in terms of space, with 969 kha. Chinese vineyards cover 875 kha.

South Africa’s vineyards have been slowly declining since 2012, OIV said, standing at 125 kha in 2018.

South African wine production

South Africas wine output dropped to 9.5 mhl in 2018, down from 10.8 mha in 2017. This is due to the drought that hit the Western Cape and other regions over the past few years.

This was also paired with a slight decrease in wine consumption in the country, where 4.3 mhl was consumed in 2018.

South Africa dropped from being the eighth biggest producer of wine in the world to ninth.

The OIV said that early indication for 2019 pointed to a continued decline in output from the Southern Hemisphere, with high temperatures and the South African drought expected to continue having an impact.

According to data from the SA Wine Industry Information & Systems in January 2019, crop yields are expected to be only marginally bigger than 2018, as vineyards struggle to recover from a three-year drought, bad weather, and declining vineyards as land gets changed to other, more profitable crops.

The 2018 harvest amounted to 1.24 million tonnes, 14% smaller than the previous year, mainly due to the drought, it said.

The table below outlines the biggest wine producers in the world:

# Country 2017 Yield (mhl) 2018 Yield(mhl) Change
1 Italy 42.5 54.8 +29%
2 France 36.7 49.1 +34%
3 Spain 32.1 44.4 +38%
4 United States 23.3 23.9 +3%
5 Argentina 11.8 14.5 +23%
6 Australia 13.7 12.9 -6%
7 Chile 9.5 12.9 +36%
8 Germany 7.7 9.8 +27%
9 South Africa 10.8 9.5 -12%
10 China 11.4 9.3 -18%
11 Russia 4.7 6.5 +38%
12 Portugal 6.6 6.1 -8%
13 Romania 4.3 5.1 +19%
14 Hungary 3.1 3.6 +16%
15 Brazil 3.4 3.1 -9%
World Output 250 292 +17%

Read: Please come back to Cape Town: new figures show how much the drought has impacted hotel occupancy

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The biggest wine producers in the world – here’s where South Africa sits