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The Global Wine Industry

Wine enjoys a rich history that dates back to ancient civilizations. As early as 6,000 BC, men had developed methods of fermenting grapes to produce wine, which was treated as a valuable commodity in trade. As global exploration brought settlers to new lands, so viticulture flourished—evidence of early American vineyards remain in the hybrid Scuppernong vines of the Carolinas and Florida, while visitors of Monticello can tour the grounds where Thomas Jefferson established his personal winery. Today, the wine industry flourishes throughout the world with an expected sales revenue in the billions.

Global Wine 

Quick Facts About the Wine Industry

  • According to The Wine Institute, consumption of wine in the United States has grown steadily in the last twenty years, with an increase of more than 250 million gallons. This amounts roughly to two and a half gallons per person.
  • Just Drinks predicts a growth in Chinese wine production and sales, to rise by ten percent by 2015.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization reports that more than seventy percent of global grape production is used for winemaking. Of the varieties grown, the Spanish Airen grape is the most commonly planted.

Top Producers of Wine

Wineries may be found around the world, some in countries one would least expect to see vineyards. From America to Africa, wine production offers the global market one of the most diverse selections of product. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the top producers currently rank as follows:

  • Italy – Though Italy is reported to have only a third the number of active vineyards as France, the country has barely edged their EU neighbor in terms of wine production. Four and a half million tones of wine come annually from Italy.
  • France – France leaves an indelible mark on global winemaking. Many varietals that originated here are sold to wineries around the world for commercial planting. Top wines from France include Merlot, Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Spain – Over 400 types of grapes are planted annually in Spain, though the most popular in winemaking include the Tempranillo, Airen, and Garnacha.
  • United States – California is most often associated with wine produced in the US, though nearly every state in the union has at least one active winery. California, New York, Oregon, and Washington state lead the country in wine production.
  • China – According to The Drinks Business, China ranks in the top five of wine-consuming nations. The bulk of their production remains for domestic sales and consumption, though the country is slowly gaining ground on the global scale, with trade to Canada and the United States.

Future Trends in the Wine Industry

Some may suggest the wine industry is, like other “vice” businesses, recession proof. Nonetheless, sales and consumption have dipped in markets as they rise in others. Emerging markets like China and Hong Kong are predicted to take more of the spotlight from old world producers like France and Spain, while a growth in organic winemaking processes may give attention to new production paradigms. However and wherever the wine is made, one can expect the industry to take notice.

by Kathryn Lively


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