Is there a shortage of wine? Certainly not by the looks of it- one walk around the aisles of the store here at Ed’s Fine Wines, and our walls are filled with labels from all over. However, recent supply chain issues and climate change have contributed to many problems in the industry, leading to shortages of wine in some regions around the world.
2020 was not a fun year for a multitude of reasons. Most of the planet endured a complete pause in operations. Economic shutdowns by governments, social distancing and isolation due to the Covid- 19 pandemic affected nearly every sector of business. Shutting down everything for nearly a year will trickle down to different levels for many years to come. We still don’t have all the final numbers, but wine consumption was actually down by 3% worldwide (not by anyone WE know!). Meanwhile, production has also been affected for the last several years. In 2020, agriculture, specifically the wine industry, was hit extremely hard. Vineyards were left to rot as pickers were unable to go to work. Extreme weather, from wildfires in California (going back to 2017 in Napa) and Oregon, to devastating frost and hail in France and Spain. In Australia, a labor exemption was put in place, as the pandemic hit just as the vineyards had been harvested. There will be plenty of Australian juice, despite the fact they endured devastating wildfires there, too. Historically, Australia has had far worse fires than California, with the 2019-2020 fires affecting about 60,000 tons. This only affects about 4% of their overall production, so Aussie wine lovers don’t fret.
In 2021 France lost nearly a third of their production to inclement weather, and subsequent disease. Here we are in 2022 – there is very little French Burgundy Rhone, and Sancerre, and prices have soared because of low production and high demand. Scientists believe climate change is responsible for heavy frost that hit much of France and Spain in the last couple years, most especially the 2020 and 2021 vintages. Too much Summer rainfall created a blight, yet another blow to the crops. France’s Champagne production was down over 30%, the lowest in 40 years. France is the second largest producer and exporter of wine (behind Italy). Last year global wine production hit an all-time record low, compared to an already smaller production from the previous year according to the Organization of Vine and Wine.
What does this mean to you, the consumer? Higher prices for French whites, and some reds from the Rhone. Increases from Spanish importers have already hit shelves, and a recent labor strike at the port of Madrid created yet another shortage. The French Ministry predicts this year’s production will be down about 25% overall in comparison to the last 5 vintages. The world will not run out of wine, but if your favorite French Chablis or Cotes du Rhone is still on the shelf, you may want to stock up.
In California, especially Napa, where wildfires affected so many vineyards, there will be no Napa Cabernet from the 2020 vintage from historically reliable producers. This means a loss of about $600 million due to smoke taint, according to the California Association of Wine Grape Growers. Grapes are a rare agricultural product that is affected by smoke, and can leave wine tasting of burnt rubber, or smokey ash. Many wineries that had vineyards survive the fires, sent their grapes off to the lab for testing, and the news was not good. These wines would hit our shelves next year in the fall. Larger production facilities that carry reserve stocks will recover, and there should still be plenty of California wine to go around. In fact, according to Forbes, the United States actually increased wine production by about 6% last year-contradicting global numbers. Australia, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and the US have good production; we can drink plenty from these countries while Europe (and Napa in particular) recover. Stop by and check out some of our great worldly selections or grab some of your favorites that may be hard to come by in the next vintage or two! Cheers!