Vineyard productivity or yields in the world’s major wine-growing countries in 2020, a detailed overview

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In previous articles in this series, we looked at world vineyard area and world wine production in 2020. Now let’s see how wine producing countries are performing in terms of productivity, i.e. how amount of wine they manage to produce. in relation to their area of ​​planted vines. Another way to look at this is to say “what is the average yield in a country?”

The series on the wine industry in 2020:

This is our own calculation on the back of the envelope based on figures from the OIV (International Organization of Vine and Wine). Many factors influence these numbers, and making rough estimates like we do here will only give you a very rough picture. But it’s still an interesting view.

The two elements, productivity and output, are more or less the same measure, but the different formulations illuminate the question differently. High productivity would normally be considered good, but high yields are often considered bad (in conventional wine wisdom), but both can be considered the same thing.

Another complication is definition.

The “yield” is pretty clear. It is usually expressed in hectoliters per hectare (in some cases expressed in other units: quintals per hectare, tons per acre, etc.).

“Productivity”, on the other hand, can be interpreted in different ways. The OECD says that “productivity is generally defined as a ratio between the volume of output and the volume of inputs” and with hectares as the volume of inputs, then it is yield. There are other definitions, but I will limit myself to the definition of yield.

The dotted red line in the graphs indicates the world average of 47 hl/ha.

# – indicates an estimate by OIV

$ – indicates that “non-wine vineyards” have been extracted from the acreage based on BKWine’s estimate (see article on vineyard area.)

The graphs above are therefore a very rough estimate of average yields (or productivity) in most major wine-producing countries. For China and for the World, I used the estimate of its winemaking vineyard area that I did in the section on vineyard area. Keep in mind that for some other countries as well, part of the grapes can be used for other products than wine. But I don’t think the numbers are very far off.

Please note that this only includes the largest countries, the top 19 by production volume.

Some comments and conclusions which, to a large extent, are mere hypotheses and which would require further research to verify:

High Yield Countries:

South Africa:

  • 85 hl/ha, at the top, with yields 80% higher than the world average.
  • A bit of a surprise. When you travel to South Africa, you don’t get that feeling. The vineyards generally seem to give normal to low yields compared to European vineyards. But apparently there are still large areas giving very high yields. This is probably due to the large production of brandy and bulk wine.

New Zealand:

  • 83 hl/ha, 75% above the world average, the second highest yielding country
  • A very large proportion of New Zealand wine production is made up of Sauvignon, which is generally very high yielding

Germany:

  • 82 hl/ha, 73% above average. The third highest yielding country
  • Known to be a country with high yields. It is dominated by white wine, which supports high yields better.

United States:

  • 75 hl/ha, 58% above average
  • Even though the United States is famous for rare and expensive wines from some of its regions, there are undoubtedly large areas of intensive grape production for mass-produced wine. Consider, for example, that it is home to Gallo, the largest wine producer in the world. In the coming years, this may change as the availability of water for irrigation becomes an issue. If, in the future, the vineyards are less irrigated, the yields could decrease.

Australia:

  • 73 hl/ha, 54% above average
  • It has long been a country where part of the industry is industrial type wine production for bulk wine.

Italy, France:

  • Italy: 68 hl/ha, 44% above average
  • France: 58 hl/ha and 24% above average
  • Both countries have significant bulk and entry-level production (generally based on high yields). Both countries also generally have a modern and intensive production. The very large volumes of Prosecco (high yield) and Pinot Grigio in Italy may account for the difference, as well as a larger portion of the volume.

Low yield countries

Romania, Brazil, Georgia, Hungary, Greece:

  • Several of the low-yield countries are countries that have an underdeveloped wine sector with old-style vineyards (e.g. in the former Soviet Union) and/or are in climates that naturally limit yields (notably Greece ). In some cases, a significant amount of grapes is probably used for domestic winemaking (Romania, Georgia), which does not appear in wine production statistics.

Portugal:

  • 33 hl/ha, 30% below average
  • This is likely a reflection of the fact that the wine industry in many parts of Portugal has yet to quite catch up with the modern age of viticulture and winemaking.

China:

  • 35 hl/ha, 27% below average
  • A little surprise, or maybe not. When you travel to China and visit wineries, almost all – in fact really all – of the wineries are impressive, modern, state-of-the-art, and often grand. One could therefore think that it would be a country with high productivity/outputs. But when you then walk through the vineyards, you realize that the wine-growing level is often lower than the technological level in the cellars. And it doesn’t have a very good climate for wine production.

Spain:

  • 42 hl/ha, slightly below average (-10%)
  • I don’t have the historical figures, but I suspect yields have increased significantly both because irrigation is now more widely used and more modern technologies are being used.

Middle Yielding Countries

Argentina and Chile:

  • Both almost exactly at global average returns, +6% and +5% respectively, relative to the global average
  • It is perhaps surprising to see Argentina and Chile at lower yields than France and Italy since the two South American countries are often – in many people‘s minds – associated bulk wine. Today, they make excellent, high-quality wines.

Austria:

  • +6% compared to the world average

Russia:

  • Also very close to the world average, -3%, compared to the world average

As I mentioned, this is a very rough calculation and a personal assumption. But it illustrates some interesting aspects of the wine business.

—Per Karlsson

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