Global shortage of wine, say what?

2013-10-31 13:42
Cape Town – For those of us who live in a city famous for its wine production, the idea of a wine supply crisis just seems absurd. Perhaps we're in denial.

According to Morgan Stanley Research, 2012 was more than the proverbial bad year when it comes to wine – if you're a wine lover, not exactly the thing you want to hear.

A Quartz report states 2012 was also the year of the largest wine supply deficit since the early 1960s.

Compared to the last 50 years, there was an under supply of about 300 million cases last year. Now that’s a lot of wine by anybody’s standards, even if they did factor in non-wine uses for the likes of Vermouth.

The article melancholically states that it’s not only France that’s suffering “from a growing dearth of wine" but the entire world -  and things can possibly only get worse.

The Morgan Stanley Research Data suggests there may be insufficient supply to meet demand in coming years.  Back in the early 2000s the industry had massive excess but the number of people who enjoy wine has been steadily increasing, with demand outstripping supply.

But how on earth can this be, when you consider that there are 13 staple wine producing regions scattered across the globe.

Turns out the US and China have added a considerable dent to the global wine vat as the research shows that per capita consumption has more than doubled in these countries, with China doing so in the last five years. The US alone is also responsible for drinking an estimated 12% of all the world's wine. But it doesn’t end there. These two wine drinking heavy-weights are projected to consume over 400 million cases of wine a piece by 2016. Greedy buggers.

The root cause of the problem however, has been place firmly at the feet of the world’s three largest wine-producing countries—Spain, France and Italy. Each country’s individual areas under vine have steadily been decreasing over the last decade.

So is it all doom and gloom?

The report goes on to say that “after five modest harvests in a row and an exceptionally weak 2012 harvest, wine production in 2013 can be qualified as relatively high”.

While South Africa is third from the bottom in a Morgan Stanley per capita production graph, we were rattled enough by the report to want to know should we be rushing out and stockpiling. You know, just in case!?

According to Ross Slate, Marketing Director for Cape Legends, a Distell Fine Wines Division the answer is “There is no need to panic just yet.” Phew!

Turns out bulk buyers of wine are the ones who can expect to be most affected. The worst you as the consumer can expect is a knock-on effect of prices when it comes to your supermarket brands, said Slate.

“For the more bespoke wines, those not necessarily exported in large volumes, there will more than likely only be a gradual effect,” he said.

Slate went on to reiterate the findings, saying that bad vintages in the world’s key producing regions would certainly drive up prices, but whether the wine supply would run dry is more of a concern for those at the tertiary level of the industry.

So for now, you can rest easy wine drinkers. Rest easy.

Which is your favourite wine estate? Tell us in the comments section below or email us at


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