A brief overview of 2019 global grape harvest
ROUND UP OF WORLD WIDE GRAPE HARVESTS – UNOFFICIAL ESTIMATES
The latest report from the French Ministry of Agriculture, dated 19 August, estimated the 2019 harvest in France to be 43.4 million hectolitres, down 12% on 2018 (-520 million litres), down 4% on the five-year average, and the second-smallest harvest in the past five years.
Ongoing high temperatures and temperatures and negligible rainfall in many growing areas are likely to make the shortfall larger. France’s 2019 harvest is looking significantly down in size versus both last year’s crop and the five-year average.
Spain’s 2019 harvest is expected to be significantly down by 15 – 20% (-600 million litres) from 2018’s bumper crop, with the 2019 growing season being extremely hot and dry in Castilla-La Mancha and across Spain in general, with water restrictions in place and the non-irrigated vineyards struggling in particular.
On Spanish generics however, prices are unlikely to rise significantlyan Argentina is offering highly aggressive pricing on generics at the moment.
A detailed harvest report jointly compiled by Assoenologi, ISMEA and UIV – using information collated at the end of August – has estimated Italy’s 2019 harvest at 46 million hectolitres, down 16% (-900 million litres) from 2018’s record 55 million hectolitres.
With another good-sized harvest underway, Californian bulk wine prices have dropped and offer good value for international buyers.
Some of the first grapes of the 2019 harvest were processed on August 16, when Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards picked a plot of Pinot Noir for their sparkling wine production. At the time of writing even the most late ripening varieties have their veraison fully complete, but the delayed maturity is evident, especially in Northern California. It’s still a bit too early to say anything certain about the vintage, as the last weeks of maturity are crucial, but the feeling is it will be a large harvest of good standard quality. But 2018 was a record harvest and that large amounts of wine remain unsold so expect a further downward pressure on price.
A slow moving bulk wine market together with a large wine inventory opens up opportunities for buyers. Bulk wine prices are at their lowest levels in five years, meaning there are bargain prices to be had in this pre-harvest insecurity. The situation looks similar in the premium segment with price declines of Napa Cabernet of 30%. Last year prices averageed around $70 a gallon compared to the $25–$50 a gallon today. Buyers interested in purchasing some of this oversupply should be aware of potential ‘smoke taint’ from excess North Coast wine after the wildfires of 2018.
Argentina is also highly competitive on all other wines, including Malbec and international varietals. Prices are negotiable, but the country’s increasing inflation (55%) and interest rates (85%+) mean sellers there are likely to be reluctant to further price-cut despite the large inventory – now estimated at 600 million litres.
According to the latest ‘Water Market Outlook’ from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural & Resource Economics, water allocation prices in the southern Murray-Darling Basin are likely to remain high in 2019-20. They have already risen significantly – from around AUD250 per mega litre in July last year to AUD600 per mega litre now – due to a combination of drought and increased demand for water.
Chile Winter 2019 has been the third-driest in Chile since 1950 and water reserve levels are a significant concern for growers. The forecast of an increased