Surplus Production

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

surplus production, was for years the single greatest problem facing the world’s wine industry, aggravated by improved efficiency in the vineyard and falling consumption in Europe’s important wine markets. The most palatable effect of this surplus for wine consumers has been its dampening impact on prices at the bottom end of the wine market.

Even in the late 1950s, relatively soon after the shortages of the Second World War, the world produced almost 15% more wine than it consumed, but wine consumption was rising rapidly, and it was assumed that it would catch up. By the late 1970s, average yields began to increase substantially. This was largely the result of increased viticultural proficiency, but also reflected the availability of particularly productive clones of established vine varieties, as well as the more widespread use of agrochemicals to combat vine diseases, and fertilizers. Just at this point, consumption began to decline, especially markedly in the principal wine-producing countries (which had been the principal wine markets): France, Italy, USSR, Spain, and Argentina.