France reclaims the title of world’s biggest wine producer

Harvesting grapes for Minervois wine in Massamier-la-Mignarde, close to Pepieux. This vineyard is traditionally harvested with horses to carry the grapes.
(PASCAL PAVANI / AFP/Getty Images)

France has once again become the biggest wine producer in the world, up 10% from last year, according to the French agency OIV (Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin). That means France has surpassed Spain and Italy, both of which saw poor harvests.

Laurence Girard in the Paris newspaper Le Monde [link in French] reports: “France has regained its title as the first wine producer on the planet.”

Long a global leader, France had ceded the title to Italy in 2012, falling to No. 2. In 2013, it fell to No. 3 after a monster harvest in Spain. This year Italy’s harvest was down 15% and Spain was down 19%, returning to an average level of production, according to the OIV report.


And if you’re wondering, yes, the United States is the largest consumer of wine in the world, beating out France for the first time, as French consumption fell by nearly 7%. So we have that to be chuffed about. Yet our wine production is still less than half that of France this year.

However, as Jean-Marie Aurand, director of OIV, stated at a news conference in Paris on Thursday, “For the third consecutive year, the United States has recorded a high level of production, despite the negative effects of the August earthquake and the not very favorable climate conditions in September in California.” We are now the fourth-largest producer in the world.

One interesting fact from Aurand’s presentation: 80% of the world’s wine is produced by 10 countries -- from greatest production to smallest: France (46 million hectoliters), Italy (44.4 Mhl), Spain (37 Mhl), United States (22.5 Mhl), Argentina (15.2 Mhl), Australia (12.6 Mhl), China (12 Mhl), South Africa (11.4 Mhl), Chile (10 Mhl), and Germany (9.7 Mhl).

A million hectoliters is the equivalent of 100,000,000 liters. Or, if my math is correct, about 133,333,333 bottles of wine.

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