Friday, 27 May 2016

Global wine production

The immediately obvious questions about wine data are: who has the vineyards? and who makes the wines? The answers sometimes surprise people.

The International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) has recently released the 2015 data for global wine production and trade, and these are thus the latest figures. A number of bloggers have commented on these data, notably Per Karlsson at BK Wine Magazine, from whom I have taken the data shown here.

The top 13 countries are shown in the first graph, in terms of vineyard surface area.

Top countries for vineyard area

The surprise to most people is the presence in the list of China, Turkey and Iran (whose exact data is currently uncertain, and is thus missing from the graph). However, these data refer to vineyards, not wine, and many (if not most) grapes are used for eating (both sultanas and raisins) rather than wine production. For example, in Turkey only c. 3% of the vineyards are currently used for wine production.

China has only recently over-taken France as the number-two contributor of grapes, However, while the oldest known evidence of wine-making dates back 6,000 years, in what are now Georgia and Armenia (see the map), wine-making in China dates back at least 4,500 years.

Wine map of the Middle East

The top 11 countries for current wine production are shown in the next graph.

Top countries for wine production

The change in the order of the countries shows you which ones have a large production of eating grapes, and which ones concentrate on wine production.

Indeed, we could combine the two data sets, and thus calculate who produces the most wine per vineyard area. This is shown in the third graph.


Obviously, there are differences between countries in how productive their vines are, but this graph still gives you a rough picture of who uses their grape vines for making wine. This provides a very different picture from what most people seem to expect. Even big wine-producing countries such as Spain do not use most of their vineyard area for making wine. It is the so-called New World areas who concentrate on wine production, such as South Africa, Australia, Chile, Argentina, and the USA.

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