Wednesday November 29, 2023

Italy's wine production shrinks after extreme weather hit this year

Published : 01 Oct 2023, 01:00

  DF News Desk
File Photo: Xinhua.

Italy's grape harvest will decline by around 14 percent this year compared to 2022 after a year of extreme weather, according to the country's main agriculture union Coldiretti, reported Xinhua.

The decline will make Italy fall to second among global wine producers by volume, behind France.

A year of extreme weather in Italy -- including heat waves, droughts, floods, hail, wildfires, and windstorms -- took a toll on Italian wine production this year.

According to Coldiretti, the Italian grape wine harvest this year will be around 14 percent smaller than in 2022, totaling about 43.9 million hectoliters.

That means Italy will fall to second among global wine producers by volume, behind France, which is predicting total wine production of between 44.2 and 47.0 million hectoliters despite its own challenges from dry weather and downy mildew, a plant disease. Spain, which will produce around 36 million hectoliters of wine this year, remains third, despite its own 11-percent drop.

The last time Italy was not the top global producer of wine when measured by volume was in 2014 when Italy produced 44.4 million hectoliters, just behind France with 46.6 million.

"The year didn't start out well because of problems with rain and then the heat, but we can say now that the quality is very high," Roberto Puggioni, winemaker at the Cantina della Vernaccia vineyards on Italy's island region of Sardinia, told Xinhua. "Production is down, but the quality is higher."

Assoenologi, the Italian national association of winemakers; the union of Italian wines; and ISMEA, the Italian Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market, all echoed the view, releasing statements in September predicting good results for the 2023 vintage.

"In Italy, we can say goodbye to the top position, but we're seeing better wine on average," ISMEA said in a statement.

All three groups said the drop in production levels but the increase in quality is part of a necessary and long-standing trend.

According to Massimo Lorenzi from the Enio Ottaviani Vineyards in the Emilia-Romagna region, the extreme weather that gripped Italy for most of the 2023 growing season did something his vineyards and many others in Italy were already trying to do.

"Starting well before this year we were reducing production as part of a strategy to increase quality," Lorenzi told Xinhua. "Most years we produce 120,000 or 130,000 bottles, and that's probably going to be around 15 percent lower for us this year. But the quality of the wine will probably be around 10 percent better.

"In a few years," he said, "I think we'll be producing around 90,000 bottles from the same land, regardless of the weather, but with an even higher level of quality."