Friday 3 April 2009

French wine in figures

The latest stats from the International Wine Organisation predict that world wine production will be 260.4 million hectolitres in 2008. However the french harvest will be one of the lowest for 16 years at a mere 44 million hl. Part of the explanation behind this drop in production is the grubbing up of vineyards in France. 23,000 hectares of vines were ripped up between 2004 and 2008, many of them in the Languedoc. 

Just drive through the countryside for a few kilometres and you will see abandoned vineyards or piles of ripped up vines, waiting to be burnt in the fields or taken away for fires or barbecues.


  1. Reassuringly, many of the vines in our area of the Langued'oc are being dug up in order to be replanted with better quality grape varieties (for single grape wines).

    We live in a little village near Herepian and our neighbours are 'investing' a lot in improving the local wine(s) by doing this.

    It will take some years though before we can try out the fruits of their labour...

    Jacqui U

  2. Yes, it can be confusing for the vineyards which are being re planted with more modern varietals and the vineyards, which are definitely being grubbed up.
    It is sad to see vineyards being left, but at the same time too many vineyards are not run commercially and just worked because it is part of the 'patrimonie'. Maybe these new subsidies and grants to get rid of vines will improve the long term balance of supply and demand......I always say that the only thing that works 24/7 in the Languedoc is the distillery!

  3. Up here around Villenueve the wines are improving each year. Part of that is the replacement of old not very good vines with better varieties, but I also think that the vignerons are getting better at their craft. I noticed in an earlier post you high rated the Donjon I found last fall. One of my neighbors in Caunes tipped me about the wine. Certainly a lucky day for me. AS was today finding your wonderful blog ( through Loulou from "French Politics" I will be seeing you often, now that I've found you. ds

  4. Thanks for your comments Jacqui, Hamish and David.It is heartening to know that in at least some cases poor quality vines are being replaced with better quality, lower yielding varieties, which bodes well for long term quality. But around me in the Minervois there seem to be more and more vineyards ripped up with no sign of replanting. If they are on the edge of the village then ripping up vines (where the grapes had gone to the coop and received ever decreasing returns) and then selling the land for construction is a much more lucrative option. Or a grape grower approaching retirement takes the grant for ripping up as the next generation is not interested in grape farming.If the grapes were only producing mediocre wine then it is part of the process of evening out supply and demand. But often the vines may be good quality - 80 year old carignan vines can produce some wonderful wine but are sacrificed as from an economic point of view they don't make sense.

    The stats only give an overview, not the whole picture.

    Finally, sorry I've been so lax at posting over the last couple of weeks. School starts again on Monday so normal service will resume next week.