Allegrini 2018

The first bunches of grapes kick off the 2021 harvest. Coldiretti data on production and exports

Harvest estimates down 5-10%, between 44 and 47 million hectoliters, while shipments are starting to grow again, +4% in the first few months of 2021
The first grapes harvested

The 2021 harvest in Italy kicked off more than seven days earlier than 2020. Heat waves caused by climate change have caused temperatures to jump to over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and thereby speed up grapes ripening in the South. In the north, instead, the estimate is on average a 10 day delay. Meanwhile, the anti-Covid vaccination campaign has favored the return to community life and the catering sector is reopening around the world. Italian wine exports are recovering momentum, following a challenging year, and in 2021 have registered +4% jump in value- These are data the Coldiretti analysis, carried out in conjunction with harvesting the first clusters of Chardonnay, in Contrada Virzì, between Alcamo and Camporeale, in Sicily, on the Principi di Spadafora farm, have revealed.

“Estimates for Italian production in 2021“, underlined Coldiretti, “see 5-10% decrease at the National level, therefore, quantity between 44 and 47 million hectoliters. However, a lot will depend on temperatures that will affect ripening, as well as on storms and hailstorms that have a devastating impact on the vineyards and on quantities produced. Nevertheless, we are expecting a year of good/excellent quality in Italy, even though the harvest trend will be greatly influenced by temperatures during the rest of August and September to be able to confirm the forecasts quantity-wise. Even though there will be a decrease at the National level, this year Italy”, specified Coldiretti, “is the leading world wine producer, while a fight for second place is expected between France and Spain, which have both had decreases in harvests, though France was a bit worse”.

The harvest, from North to South of the Italian Peninsula, traditionally starts with Pinot and Chardonnay grapes and the journey”, stated Coldiretti, “continues in September and October with Glera for Prosecco and the great native Sangiovese red grapes, Montepulciano, Nebbiolo, and then it ends in November with Aglianico and Nerello grapes, on 658.000 hectares of cultivated vineyards nationwide. The Italian production”, pointed out Coldiretti, “can count on 607 varieties registered in the vine register, which is double that of the French, while 70% of the Made in Italy bottles are for DOCG, DOC and TGI wines.

As far as export numbers are concerned, European consumers have been driving Italian bottles across the border in 2021, and precisely in France, in the kingdom of Champagne, where Made in Italy labels have registered +12.5%, in Russia up to +32%, while Germany only +4%, but on values that make it the leading Italian wine market in the Old World. Disturbing notes, instead, come from Great Britain where Made in Italy wines have been crushed in the grip of the Pandemic and the explosion of the Delta variant as well as the difficulties related to Brexit, marking an almost 12% drop in sales, even though Great Britain is in second place as one of the most passionate customers, especially of Prosecco. The major problems those exporting to the United Kingdom encounter“, Coldiretti pointed out, “concern customs procedures and the increase in transportation costs due to delays and stricter controls. This situation”, continued Coldiretti, “risks favoring counterfeit and imitation products due to deregulation. It is no coincidence that sales of fake Prosecco in cans or on tap have been exposed in English pubs.
“The Chinese market“, Coldiretti continued, “was the first to recover from the Covid nightmare. In 2021 it has registered a +75% jump in purchases of Italian wine. Instead, the slowdown in the United States is continuing, where Italian wines have always been among the most popular, but where the effects of the health emergency are continuing to weigh heavily. And indeed, sales of Italian wine in the US fell to -3% in value, due also to the pressure of competition from French wine, which is no longer burdened with additional duties after the agreement between the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen and the US President, Joe Biden, on suspending all tariffs related to the Airbus-Boeing disputes, went into effect on March 11, 2021.

In general, recovery in exports has been accompanied by growth in domestic consumption, marking a +21.3% record increase in domestic purchases of wines and sparkling wines in the first quarter of 2021 (compared to the same period in 2020), according to Coldiretti analysis of on ISMEA data. The result is an increase in turnover, which Coldiretti has estimated equal to 11 billion euros in 2021. What they are worried about, Coldiretti emphasized, are the new European policies, such as the proposal to put alarmist labels on the bottles to discourage consumption or the go-ahead from the European Union to new winemaking practices, such as partially and/or totally removing the alcohol content, which according to Coldiretti represents a big risk and a very dangerous precedent. This would allow calling a product wine in which its natural characteristics have been completely compromised as the result of an invasive treatment that interferes in the centuries-old process of transforming grapes into must and then into wine. The decision to consider de-alcoholic and partially de-alcoholic wines as viniculture products and then to allow this practice also for wines with a protected designation of origin or a protected geographical indication is particularly serious, stated Coldiretti.
“Italy will be able to restart on the strengths of its agro-food industry that has shown resilience in the face of the crisis and will play a driving role for the entire economy”, commented Ettore Prandini, President of Coldiretti. He continued, underlining that “to support the growing trend of Made in Italy food and wine also need to act on Italy also needs to act on structural delays and unlock all the infrastructures that would improve connections between the South and North of the Country, as well as with the rest of the world by sea and high-speed rail, employing a network of junctions composed of airports, trains and cargo. “Every year“, continued Prandini, “our Country is damaged in terms of lower export opportunities to which we must add the higher cost of the “logistics bill" linked to transportation and handling of goods. The Recovery Plan, therefore, represents a unique, not-to-be-missed opportunity to be able to overcome the accumulated delays and increase the competitiveness of companies in domestic and foreign markets. In Italy, the grape harvest activates a system that offers job opportunities to 1.3 million people employed directly in vineyards, wineries and in market distribution, for those employed in related and service activities, and is the leading role of young farmers in an important sector such as wine”, concluded Ettore Prandini.

The feature that characterizes the new season of Italian wine best, continued Coldiretti, is attention to environmental sustainability, marketing policies, through the use of social media, and the relationship with consumers, and young winemakers who have taken over the reins of companies and introduced innovations. Furthermore, the surface areas of young people’s farms are more than 54% above the average, turnover is 75% higher than the average and there are 50% more employees per farm. Their presence has in fact revolutionized work in the countryside, where 70% of young companies are operating in multifunctional activities ranging from the transformation and corporate sale of wine to wine tourism and wine therapy. This opportunity has been made possible through the agriculture orientation law (Law 228/2001), supported strongly by Coldiretti, which revolutionized work in the countryside, expanding the boundaries of agriculture entrepreneurship and opening up new employment opportunities.

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