For centuries, France dominated wine production but may change. A recent article in the International Herald Tribune reported the results from a study for the Vignerons Independants winemakers association that revealed Spain will top world wine production to Spain by 2015.
France is in trouble for two major reasons, falling consumption at home and the tendency of French winemakers to be slow to adapt to new trends and competitors. Eric Rosaz, the director of France’s independent wine producers association, believes it’s not too late and that France can remain the wine leader especially if they pick up current trends like screw tops, boxed wines and easy-to-understand labeling. In 2015, the U.S. will be the world’s largest wine consumer with 871 million gallons but U.S. consumers tend to steer clear of French wines especially because they perceive French wines to be costly or too hard to understand.
Should France manage to dodge the challenges of Spain and the U.S., another threat is looming. The BBC has an article that says China may be the world’s largest producer of bulk wine in 50 years time as well as a major force in fine wine. Currently, Chinese wine isn’t well known outside of Asia but the country does have a huge number of vineyards and climate change may work in their favor as other places may find themselves unable to grow decent wine. What China currently seems to be lacking is technical expertise but that is changing.
Jasper Morris, of wine sellers Berry Brothers & Rudd predicts that in 50 years, consumers will ask for wine by the brand name or flavor but won’t know or care where it came from. I’m hoping that won’t be the case but there certainly is room enough on the global market for wines from all places. Other Berry predictions include some trends already in place such as the continued rise of English sparkling wine, the phasing out of corks and the rise of new containers to compete with the bottle.
I like to believe there will always be a market for certain French wines but in a year like this, where Robert Parker says the 2007 Bordeaux isn’t great, it’s becoming possible to see a world where French wine is no longer the dominant force in the world.