Wine shortage? No need to panic, say vintners

Wine shortage? No need to panic, say vintners

Bordeaux - China is planting more and more vineyards, the US is reclaiming wine regions abandoned during Prohibition and the English are producing more bubbly than ever before.

And with global production expected to increase still further in coming decades the supply of wine would seem assured for some time to come.

"There are new vineyards (in China), so many new vineyards planted that have not yet begun producing," said Bruno Butragueno, Asia Pacific director for Rioja giant Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana.

But that view was dealt a blow last month with the publication of a report predicting a global wine shortage and higher prices.

US bank Morgan Stanley forecast a shortfall with wine drinkers demanding more than the world's vineyards can produce.

Allan Sichel, vice president of the Bordeaux Wine Council, said demand was growing steadily in Japan and exports to America had increased by 15 per cent.

And demand in countries such as newly wealthy China is only predicted to rise too.

"With more and more Chinese travelling overseas (...) being introduced to wine and experiencing the western drinking culture, it will only bring up the demand," said Judy Leissner, CEO of Grace Vineyards in China.

According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, global wine production will continue to expand, reaching 281 million hectolitres (Mhl) this year compared to 258 in 2012.

English sparkling wines are contributing to that boost in production.

"The future for English sparkling wine is extremely bright with new producers establishing themselves every day and hundreds of hectares of new vineyards being planted regularly across (southern counties) Sussex and Hampshire and Kent," said Christian Holthausen of Nyetimber, which pioneered English sparkling wine 25 years ago.

In Argentina, too, Bodegas Santa Ana - with an annual production of 60 million bottles - continues to plant new vines and buy up existing vineyards, according to export manager Martin Navesi.

But is it enough to quench the global thirst for wine?

Growers say their cellars are far from empty.

"We have stock. Port has the rule of three - for every bottle you sell, you must stock two bottles," said Jorge Nunes, Asia Pacific representative for Port wine producer Symington.

Indeed, Leissner said there was even a surplus of wine in China and that future demand would be met by domestic supply.

"At the moment, I don't see there is a wine shortage in China," said Leissner, who produces two million bottles a year. "Many local wineries are unable to sell their wines."

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