Taking a close look at figures and statistics in the world of wine is a great way to gain a better understanding of the global wine market as a whole.
In this article, we will break down which grape varietals dominate the marketplace today, as well as which wine regions are most productive all around the world.
Wine Statistics, Trends & Industry Data
Wine Region Statistics
There are four primary countries that are responsible for the majority of the world’s wine supply, and each of them is known for different distinct styles of wine. Italy, France, Spain, and the United States are all huge producers of high-quality wine, and bottles from all four countries are readily available worldwide.
Italy is home to some of the most prestigious wine regions on earth, and everything from the famous wines of Barolo and Barbaresco to affordable everyday selections is produced there. For many years, France was the world’s leading wine producer, though Italy now consistently claims the top spot year after year.
Just over 1200 million gallons of total wine are produced in Italy every single year, with the majority of the finished product being exported. While Italy has a strong wine culture, the country is relatively small compared to countries like the United States which consume significantly more wine.
Just over 1000 million gallons of French wine are produced on an annual basis, and the majority of the world’s most popular wine grapes originated in France. Cabernet Sauvignon (the world’s most popular wine grape) is French, as well as other household names like Chardonnay and Merlot.
Spain is responsible for just under 900 million gallons of wine each year, and it is one of the most rapidly emerging wine countries in the world. The country’s climate makes it best suited for warm-weather grapes, and some of the most iconic Spanish wines are made with Tempranillo.
While the United States consistently leads the way when it comes to wine consumption statistics, it is fourth on the list when it comes to wine production. Just under 650 million gallons of wine are made in the US every year, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay leading the way.
United States Wine Statistics
While there are 50 different states in the USA, three of them are responsible for the vast majority of high-quality American wine production. All three of the “west coast” states in the US are very famous for wine production, and there is a wide variety of microclimates between them.
California is home to some of the most famous wine regions in the United States, including neighboring Napa and Sonoma counties. The saying in the California wine industry is that “Cab is King,” as Cabernet Sauvignon is responsible for the vast majority of sales.
California is home to 43 percent of all wineries in the United States, as well as an impressive 85 percent of the country’s total wine production. Everything from everyday affordable selections to high-end “cult Cabernets” come from California, and the state is showing no signs of slowing down when it comes to wine.
Oregon and Washington
Oregon and Washington are each home to about eight percent of all wineries in the United States. Washington produces much more wine, accounting for five percent of all US wine, while Oregon only makes up two percent of the US wine market.
Grape Varietal Statistics
While there are hundreds of different wine grapes that are planted around the world today, nine key grape varieties make up the lion’s share of the total plantings. Each grape brings something different to the table in terms of flavor and wine style, making wine one of the most versatile beverages on earth.
Cabernet Sauvignon dominates the wine market, as it is both the most widely planted and top-selling wine grape in the world by a wide margin. Cabernet Sauvignon is often referred to as a “Steakhouse wine” due to its bold flavors, and it can be found on the menu of nearly every restaurant that sells wine.
There are over 700 thousand acres of Cabernet Sauvignon planted across the globe, which is more than 100 thousand acres more than the next most popular grape. This famous wine grape is featured in some of the most sought-after and expensive bottles of wine in the world, including the legendary blends of Bordeaux.
Merlot is the second most popular wine grape on earth, and while it is planted in many of the same areas as Cabernet Sauvignon, it is very different in just about every way. In fact, the reason that Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon work so well when blended together is the fact that they feature very different tastes and body profiles.
There are over 650 thousand acres of Merlot planted worldwide, with France leading the way in total Merlot Plantings. France is responsible for roughly two-thirds of all Merlot plantings worldwide, with Italy and the USA accounting for much of the rest.
While the Airén grape may find itself atop the list for white wine grapes in terms of total acres under vine, it is not one of the more well-known wine grapes on earth. It is almost exclusively grown in Spain, where it is used to make an affordable white wine that rarely makes it outside of the country’s borders.
With over 600 thousand total acres under vine, the Airén grape takes up more than 100 hundred more acres than the much more famous Chardonnay grape. However, the number of Airén vineyards is reducing each year, most likely as a result of decreased demand domestically.
Tempranillo is a thick-skinned Spanish red wine grape that has developed a reputation for being both strong and spicy. It is nearly always oak aged and is a great option for novice wine enthusiasts who are looking to expand their palates.
Tempranillo accounts for over 550 thousand acres across the world, with Spain leading the way in terms of volume. Some of the most famous Spanish wines are from the Rioja region, where some of the best representations of Tempranillo in the world are grown and oak aged.
While the Airén grape finds itself atop the list for total plantings worldwide, the Chardonnay grape is considered the “king of white wine grapes” in the eyes of many industry professionals. It is an extremely versatile grape that consistently outsells all other white wine grapes on a yearly basis.
There are just under 500 thousand acres of Chardonnay vineyards on earth, with France and California accounting for the majority of production. California Chardonnay is generally oaky and “buttery” while French Chardonnay is considered to be “cleaner” with a more subtle touch of oak.
Syrah is a “spicy” red wine grape that is well known for its flavor profile that can include tasting notes of black pepper. It makes for a fantastically interesting wine on its own, and also shines in popular red wine mixes such as GSM blends.
Syrah spans over 450 thousand acres, and plantings are increasing in France due to increased demand year over year. Syrah takes well to oak aging, though the more delicate French oak is generally preferred to American oak barrels.
Garnacha is more commonly known in the United States as Grenace, and it is a “juicy” red wine grape that is fairly low in tannin. This makes it a great wine grape for newer wine drinkers, as well as a fantastic candidate for adding body to red wine blends.
There are just under 450 thousand acres of Grenache plantings in the world today, and it is nearly as popular as the Syrah grape. This versatile grape can also be used to make a high-quality white wine, which has become increasingly popular over the past two decades.
Sauvignon Blanc is a popular and versatile acidic white wine grape that is nearly as popular as Chardonnay at restaurants and wine bars. Sauvignon Blanc dominates the market in certain countries like New Zealand, and there are many different styles and flavor profiles available today.
There are just under 300 thousand acres of Sauvignon Blanc under vine today, and it is readily available at some of the most popular bars and restaurants in the world. Many people consider Sauvignon Blanc to represent one of the best values in white wine, as it is generally affordable to pick up a high-quality bottle.
Pinot Noir is a red wine grape that produces a light and acidic red wine that is both delicate and layered in flavor. Many high-end wine bars carry dedicated Pinot Noir glasses that are specially shaped to capture and concentrate the subtle aromas of the wine.
While Pinot Noir only currently takes up a modest 244 thousand acres, plantings of the grape are increasing each year due to increased popularity and demand. It is better suited for planting in colder weather regions, and the American states of Oregon and Washington are some of the fastest-growing areas of production.
How is wine changing on the consumer end of things? According to several studies, consumers are the key driving force for positive change in the wine industry.
When they’re not introducing neat new ideas, they’re asking questions about the ins and outs of this convoluted culture. Vox published a fantastic piece earlier this year on just how confusing purchasing a bottle of wine can be.
Many consumers find themselves lost on what reserva or vinter means…if they’re not struggling to justify the price point. These are just a few of the many barriers that keep newcomers from getting into wine in the first place.
Fortunately, this isn’t stopping some consumers from popping open a bottle of pinot noir and getting started.
- Forbes took a look at wine consuming habits in the first half of 2020, revealing Millennials to be a key drinking audience at 32% of high-frequency drinkers, with Boomers still leading at 42%.
- Nearly 80% of high-frequency drinkers still prefer to shop in-store.
- The $20 cap remains the most popular price point for wine bottles.
- More than half of high-frequency drinkers consume wine while using Zoom.
- California is the most popular wine origin for high-frequency drinkers at 35%.
- Wine drinking volume and personal habits have trended toward low-cost, home drinking. Beverage Daily takes a look at how COVID-19 has shifted wine culture in the United States and what that could mean for a similar 2021.
- Online domestic wine sales are the new wave for American drinkers, with on-premise wine sales dropping by nearly 30%.
I love to pop open a bottle of wine as a reward for a hard week’s work or when watching a movie. How have your wine drinking habits changed this year?
Wine producers have had a lot on their plates in 2020. They have to contend with not just shifting consumer drinking habits, but an evolving climate and the recent pandemic. What does this mean for their future?
While the year isn’t over yet, there are several keen projections on what we should expect for the hard workers behind your bottle of $20 rosé. Wine consumption has decreased in some ways and increased in others, dramatically changing the sale habits of wineries. More people are drawing distinctions between vineyards in the wine industry, too, from natural to organic to even biodynamic.
While organic vineyards are still a growing development (pun intended), they’re a timely issue in light of climate change and sharper consumer scrutiny.
- The United States creates over 800 million gallons of wine annually.
- Toptal has a fantastic deep dive into the financial shifts in the global wine industry, revealing the countries with the highest wine consumption per capita to be Portugal, Italy, and France at 35 liters per person.
- The Chinese wine market is predicted to reach nearly $20 billion by 2022.
- Rosé and sparkling wine are neck-to-neck, each variety comprising 10% of the worldwide wine industry.
- Forbes revealed Italy was hit very hard by COVID-19. Over 60% of Italian wine producers expect their sales to keep falling in 2020.
- On the other hand, wineries who export between 70% to 80% of their products are expected to be affected the least by COVID-19.
Climate change and a global pandemic make a mean combo. Do you think wine producers are adapting fast enough?
Visiting local wineries was an incredibly illuminating experience for me. There’s something special about peeling back the veneer of the grocery store aisle to see where this drink is made.
While it’s difficult to travel now thanks to COVID-19, there are several ways you can show support for your local wineries. According to a 2020 survey by Statista, there are nearly 11,000 wineries in the United States alone. The vast majority are in California, followed closely by Washington and New York, and all of them are reeling from the pandemic.
Not only do wineries receive revenue from wine sales, but they also provide tours, training, and enrichment. With social distancing the new norm, many wineries have to figure out new ways to reach the same audiences.
- Half of all American wineries are located in California.
- Californian wildfires are threatening Napa Valley vineyards, with over 10,000 acres under threat.
- 63% of winery respondents stated a decrease in 2020 sales.
- Napa Valley’s Beckstoffer Vineyards donated $100,000 to counties in need.
- Winc alone made waves with a nearly 700% increase in new wine subscription sign-ups once the pandemic was in full swing.
- World Of Wine is transforming old warehouses into wine schools and museums to educate the next generation.
- 63% of Australian wine is exported. Export value has also decreased by 43% to its major markets in China.
Today’s wineries may be down, but they’re certainly not out. Until a vaccine is made and day-to-day life is restored, home delivery (as well as technological advances) are the new norm. When was the last time you visited a winery?
Grape Varieties And Wine Types
Temperatures are rising. Tastes are changing. Which grape varieties and wine types are still doing well…and which are struggling to keep up?
Unsurprisingly, cabernet sauvignon is the go-to grape variety for not just wineries, but entire countries. You don’t have to be a day drinker to be familiar with that name. The biggest factors that go into a grape’s popularity are both its compatibility with the environment and its popularity with consumers.
The analysis below makes a keen note of the complexity of the wine industry, too, and how cabernet sauvignon remains reliable for both experts and newcomers.
- Wine Searcher’s 2020 analysis takes a look at which varieties are expected to get the most love this year and the next, with both merlot and tempranillo the most popular grapes worldwide.
- That same study from Toptal explored how sparkling wine and rosé are some of the most popular wine types of the past few years, with 2020 considered a fantastic growth year despite so many obstacles.
- Prosecco sales have seen a 20% increase in the United States.
- Comparatively, New Zealand’s chardonnay wine acres have shrunk by over 10%.
- BizJournals reveals California’s success is starting to work against it, with 30,000 vineyard acres affecting grape prices and needing to be culled.
It hasn’t escaped my notice that rosé and sparkling varieties have exploded in local grocery stores, with canned versions having entire shelves dedicated to them. Both the environment and the shifting tastes of key drinking audiences are determining the varieties of tomorrow. Which ones do you think will reign supreme after 2020?
2020 has been a year of reinventing the wheel…or, rather, using the wheel as intended. A lot of what seems brand new is just being used in larger quantities, whether it’s remote work or home delivery services.
Much of wine’s appeal comes from diving into the history behind the bottle. Wine tours range from tourist escapades to entire trains dedicated to the art, such as the Napa Valley Wine Train. With COVID-19 restricting our freedoms, many consumers have turned to technology to bridge the gap.
Wine Industry Advisor explores the major difference between short-term crisis management and the new reality of today’s pandemic, with virtual wine tourism considered a smart investment to err on the side of caution. It’s costly and takes extra effort on top of everything that goes into running a wine business, yes, but normal isn’t returning anytime soon.
- Digital scent technology is being proposed to allow customers to use even more of their senses from the comfort of their homes. This market is expected to reach $690 million by the end of 2020.
- Bloomberg summarizes a few more great wine technological advances in their top eight list. Space Cargo Unlimited is sending red wine into space in 2020 to be aged for 12 months.
- 100 luxury wine vending machines are being installed across the United States, with the first one installed in New York.
- Piquette, a ‘worker’s drink’ made out of the leftover remains of wine stock, is expected to make a comeback in 2020.
- Over 30 distilleries in France turned extra wine into hand sanitizer to help healthcare workers fight the coronavirus.
Nobody will ever call this year boring, that’s for sure. Both innovation and returning to the classics is keeping the wine industry afloat. What new (or old) developments have caught your attention?
It’s not just the wine industry that’s growing. Climate change is an omnipresent issue for everyone, no matter the demographic, money bracket, or drink preference.
This isn’t just an issue of slightly hotter summers, either. Rising (and falling) temperatures mean entire livelihoods are at stake, environments are forever altered and several species of animals are struggling to survive. This snowball effect means the wine industry has to overhaul when, where, and how they can grow their grapes.
Wine Mag’s 2020 analysis takes a very thorough look at all the ways climate change is impacting the harvests of the future. While some grape varieties have still flourished in the hotter weather, others are withering away.
- The average wine harvest begins 13 days earlier than in the 1980s.
- Over 10,000 scientists brought a petition at the end of 2019 to encourage more environmentally responsible behavior for 2020, breaking records for the most amount of people gathered for a ‘climate emergency’.
- Due to rising temperatures, in 2019, Australia saw an 8% loss in white wine varieties, starting off 2020 on a troubling foot.
- The Guardian took a look at the pervasive damage of global warming and how a mere two to four temperature increase could decimate wine-friendly land by as much as 85%.
- There are over 1,000 different grape varieties planted around the world.
It’s scary thinking that just a few decades could render these industries to a shell of their former selves…or even obsolete. What are you doing to keep up with climate change this year?
All is not lost. Every day brings a new opportunity to reverse climate change and the damage it’s causing, with several sectors of the wine industry already leading the charge.
Creating a delicious bottle of wine isn’t as simple as planting, picking, and fermenting. You also have to factor in the carbon footprint of manufacturing equipment for the bottles and barrels, transportation times for home or wholesale delivery, and the act of recycling leftover material.
Wine Mag’s previously mentioned analysis also details just how deep this runs, stating how even the type of fertilizer used (or not used) can leave a long-term impact on the world around us. Reading wine labels may be a chore, but they’re an essential part of being an ethical drinker. Our dollar matters.
- EcoWatch reveals it takes six gallons of water to make a single gallon of wine.
- Wine regions are expected to shrink by 50% over the next few decades. Switching to more heat-resistant grape varieties could help.
- Food And Wine takes a look at some of the most eco-friendly wine brands of 2020, making repeated note of biodynamic wine cultivation methods and the positive impact they leave.
- Shafer is a Californian winemaker that uses 100% solar power to create its products, as well as recycled rainwater and natural pest management.
- Agroforestry is a winegrowing technique being proposed to adapt to the environment without adding harmful chemicals or damaging the land.
Some of today’s wineries are also planning on using thinner glass bottles to reduce their weight and make them easier to recycle. In fact, this leads me to number eight on this list…
The classic wine bottle is one of the first things you see before taking a sip. It not only tells you what you’re going to drink and where it comes from but has the unenviable task of turning your gaze from hundreds of competitors a few inches away.
I love to collect wine bottles, choosing the most illustrative to decorate my kitchen counter. A development I am keen on seeing become a new trend is the flat plastic wine bottle patented by Garcon Wines.
Reviewed over on Wine Spectator earlier this summer, this new packaging design takes eco-friendliness to an entirely new level. The shape itself is much easier to stack and sort, creating a ripple effect that results in higher volume per transport and fewer trips. They’re less heavy than glass, to boot, and are easily recycled.
- There has been a 600% rise in demand for home deliveries thanks to COVID-19.
- Over eight million tons of plastic are dumped in the ocean every year.
- Plastic creation will comprise 15% of greenhouse gas problems by 2050.
- Glass recycling faces many challenges. San Francisco has set up a new initiative for 2020 to keep 80% of its waste out of landfills.
- Beverage Daily takes a look at the sustainability of recycled paperboard for wine bottles, noting that it boasts a lighter weight, a lower carbon footprint, and greater flexibility in branding design.
Out with the old, in with the new. What wine packaging trends are you hoping to see in 2020?
Caught between an eco-friendly development and packaging, transportation is a sometimes overlooked element of the wine industry. For exporters and importers? It’s everything.
It’s not as simple as putting wine in a box, slapping on a stamp, and sending it out. Wine businesses have to take into account a medley of details from state sales tax to efficient packaging methods.
Alcohol legislation in the United States has always been a contentious issue, too, making this another drop in the ocean as it were. With COVID-19 making home delivery the standard, more efficient transportation is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. How are transportation and e-commerce affecting the wine industry?
- DTC wine sales hit an impressive $3 billion by the summer of 2020.
- Global e-commerce sales exceeded $3.5 trillion this year and are expected to double.
- Naked Wine created 80 new jobs just to keep up with the wine e-commerce boom of early 2020.
- Drizly saw a nearly 400% increase in their customer growth, with 40% of their explosive sales dedicated to wine alone.
- Wine Searcher has a wonderful piece exploring the rather solid points made on both sides of the fence when it comes to wine shipping.
Take this as an opportunity to double down on your appreciation for a basic service. Do you think wine shipping and transportation will get better or worse?
One of the biggest changes to the wine industry isn’t the climate itself, nor the bottle designs…but selling it. Western wine culture has a well-earned reputation as an exclusionary culture and that’s all about to change.
Millennials, as explored above, are a major wine market. This means wine marketing needs different approaches to speak to a unique audience with unique needs. Vinous has a lengthy interview of thirty-five wine producers at a roundtable discussing the challenges faced in 2020, including losing in-person wine tastings, finishing harvests in time for lockdown, and yes, marketing.
Some success stories cite more attention to email marketing and active blogging. Both are great ways of staying in-touch with customers who are more bored and stressed than ever.
- Email marketing creates $38 for just $1 spent, considered today to be one of the most cost-effective marketing tools out there.
- There are nearly four billion regular email users.
- Around 73% of Millennials prefer email over calling.
- USA Trade Tasting stresses the need to make customers happy over all else, with 70% of consumers stating a positive experience is very important to them.
- 80% of respondents to a customer survey would be more likely to do business again if they received a ‘personalized’ experience.
- 60% of today’s customers either use voice search or plan to use it more.
- Forbes and Foundations Marketing Group stress the need to switch wine marketing tactics, stating what appeals to Boomers outright turns off Millennials.
Marketing isn’t just badgering someone until they buy: it’s finding someone already interested and making sure their needs are met. If you’re a Millennial drinker like myself, stay tuned for marketing that treats you like more than an afterthought. What do you think wine marketing should start doing in 2020?
Restaurants And Bars
Where there’s food, there’s wine. Restaurants and bars have taken a major blow in 2020, with social distancing and masks making it difficult to enjoy a good meal easily. What does this mean for the future of the food industry?
If you’re expecting to ‘go back to normal’ by the end of the year, you should dial back the optimism a little. Business Insider has projected as much as 85% of all American restaurants and bars could permanently close by the end of the year, with only the major chains and the occasional lucky mom-and-pop store circumventing bankruptcy.
This means sommeliers are almost guaranteed to be out of the job, with wine businesses that rely on the restaurant and bar sector having to completely overhaul their consumer base. If they don’t close down themselves, of course.
- Restaurants and bars are considered ‘COVID-19 hotspots’ for their high rate of transmission. A young French man infected over 70 people at a bar party earlier this year.
- Nearly 90% of American adults say restaurants are an important part of their community.
- 55% of American adults know of a restaurant in their city that closed down.
- 50% of American consumers are wanting to mitigate their alcohol consumption.
- Non-alcoholic beer sales were up 44% before summer, suggesting that lockdown is losing its appeal and moderation is still important to many drinkers and foodies.
- Lyre’s non-alcoholic stock increased by 400% since COVID-19 began.
Things are looking topsy turvy for the rest of the year, as much as I wish it were different. Have any restaurants or bars closed in your area?
2020 is a year both innovative and awful for the wine industry.
While the world of wine is extensive and always growing, there are a handful of very important wine grapes and regions that are widely considered to be the “powerhouses” of the industry. Cabernet Sauvignon dominates worldwide plantings, while Italy has surpassed France for the top spot in terms of production in the past decade.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you are aware of any interesting or enlightening wine statistics, and be sure to let other wine enthusiasts know which wine grapes and regions are your favorites!