Sat, Oct 22, 2016 - Page 10 News List

Worldwide wine slump could be due to El Nino

DRYING OUT:China is in sixth place on this year’s global output ranking despite no increase in its production, as outputs in Chile and Brazil decreased

AFP, PARIS

Global wine production for this year is expected to be among the lowest in 20 years, an industry body said on Thursday, suggesting climatic events such as El Nino could be to blame.

The International Organisation of Vine and Wine estimated this year’s output at 259 million hectoliters (Mhl; there are 100 liters in a hectoliter), a year-on-year drop of 5 percent.

This worldwide annual total, released at a news conference in Paris, is among the three lowest since 2000.

The organization said weather was partly to blame.

“The El Nino climate phenomenon seems to be back in Latin America, where production was affected by fairly exceptional weather, with lots of rain,” organization chief executive officer Jean-Marie Aurand said.

The El Nino weather phenomenon, which occurs every four to five years, affects rainfall patterns and causes both drought and flooding. As it recedes the Pacific cooling trend known as La Nina typically begins, often causing increased rainfall, storms and snow across the globe.

Most of the fall in wine output occurred in the southern hemisphere: Argentina’s production fell by 35 percent to 8.8Mhl, leading its world ranking to drop from fifth to ninth place.

In Chile it fell by 21 percent, to 10.1Mhl, and in Brazil it halved, to 1.4Mhl.

A prolonged drought in South Africa pushed production there below 10Mhl for the first time since 2011, to 9.1Mhl, a drop of 19 percent.

Aurand said that grapevines are able to adapt to extreme conditions, adding that they are found on the volcanic rocks of Lanzarote in Spain, as well as cold areas such as northern China.

China climbed the global output ranks to sixth place without actually increasing its production (11.5Mhl) thanks to the drops in Latin America, said Aurand, adding that China planned to boost output to 16Mhl by 2020 by developing vineyards near the Gobi desert.

In Europe, Italy confirmed its place as the leading world producer with 48.8Mhl, having knocked France off the top spot last year.

France came in second with 41.9Mhl, following a sharp fall of 12 percent attributed to frost, floods and drought.

Of the top three producing nations, the organization expects only Spain to show growth this year, with a one-percent year-on-year rise to 37.8Mhl.

The US is fourth with 22.5Mhl, a rise of 2 percent, and Australia is the world’s fifth-largest producer after seeing 5 percent growth to 12.5Mhl.

The organization estimated that between 8 percent and 12 percent of wine was produced organically this year and that the trend was catching on “almost everywhere.”

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