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China Becomes World’s Second-Largest Grape Growing Region

Vineyards in China
Vineyards in China

Tensions between France and China, at least when it comes to wine, just got taken up another notch. In addition to recent hits to France’s Bordeaux revenue due to government crackdowns on excess, China also just took France’s claim to being the world’s second-largest wine region.

Spain And France Have A New Competitor

The International Organisation of Vine and Wine (L’Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin or OIV) is an international body that tracks the scientific and technical aspects of winemaking and viticulture. As part of their duties, they release statistics on these things annually. While it has changed names and membership, the organization is likely rooted in the phylloxera epidemic of 1874 and the Montpellier Congress held by five nations in October of that year. They have recently announced that China is now a larger grower of wine grapes than France.

How Are The World’s Wine Regions Ranked?

Countries are ranked based on how their vineyards, in hectares, factor into the world’s total area of vineyards. The top five are as follows:

  • Spain – 13.5%
  • China – 10.6%
  • France – 10.5%
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • The United States

What Does This Mean?

The ranking is somewhat arbitrary as it does not account several important factors. Grapes don’t have to be used for winemaking, it is strictly by area and China has more area than most other countries. So you don’t have to worry that Chinese wine will take over your local wine shop and you won’t be able to find your favorite from the Loire Valley or Napa.

What this does show is that China, currently the world’s second largest economy, is increasing its love of and interest in wine. As Winedom has been reporting since early October of 2014, China plans on being on the world wine stage. The Chinese love drinking red wine, specifically Bordeaux, and now have ventured into producing their own, some of which is quite good.

Other Rankings To Watch

The OIV ranks several other important categories for those interested in wine. France is still producing the most wine, The US is still drinking the most, and Germany is the biggest importer.

It will be interesting to observe trends over the next few years and see if China can keep its second place and if it moves up on the list of countries producing wine – currently it sits around fifth place. While fifth sounds close to the top, it is not. Italy and France regularly switch places for first and second with Spain always at a very distant third. Fifth place China is not providing any serious competition at this time. But could that change?

Some believe that if the trend of wine being produced outside of Europe continues, there could be more competition on a global scale for spots in the top three. A declining production rate in Europe for a variety of reasons including uprooting of vines to slow grape growth after producing too much wine, a marketplace that can be tough for agriculture… these are all things that have allowed other places to develop a wine industry. Add to these the role terroir plays and the different wines produced globally along with accessibility and you have a growing trend of more global wines, whether they are from China, Mexico, South America or Australia.

China Vs. France – Who Will Triumph?

It’s unlikely that the governments of France and China will ever do battle over wine but it wouldn’t be unheard of to see trade embargoes or limitations in the next few years. China was a huge buyer of Bordeaux but the recent crackdown on Chinese officials spending far too much eliminated that from the budget. With the number of government officials in China, Bordeaux was likely to notice a revenue drop. Add to this China increasing its growing area and production and you could see some interesting plays on the financial end.

What do you think? Will China break into the top three? Or will France, Italy and Spain remain at the top of the world’s wine game?

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