Harvest 2016 : Volumes down but quality ever promising

15-09-2016 Les vendanges en France et dans le vignoble français
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Every year, September signals the grape harvest.

For 2016, the harvest is looking variable and according to Agreste, the French Ministry of Agriculture’s statistical service, production in France is down 10%, though quality will not be affected.

Frost, hail and the recent drought hit some French regions, including Champagne, Bourgogne, Beaujolais, Loire Valley, Charentes and Languedoc-Roussillon.  According to Agreste, production is likely to be down to 42.9m hectolitres.

The latest figures bring estimated production in Languedoc-Roussillon down to 12.4m hectolitres, with PGI wines being the worst hit, producing 2.7m hl.  Production in the regions of Lot, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Gers and Haute-Garonne are likely to be around 2.5m hl.

Estimated wine production (1,000 hl)  22 August 2016


Wine Category Average* 2015 2016 2016/2015 2016/Av.
PDO wines 20,958 21,451 19,670 -8% -6%
Wines for eaux-de-vie 8,418 9,479 7,988 -16% -5%
PGI wines 12,936 12,212 12,504 -5% -3%
Other (inc. wines without PG) 3,832 3,713 2,744 -26% -28%
TOTAL WINES 46,144 47,856 42,906 -10% -7%

*Annual average production 2011-2015

Sources: Agreste (2016 data), French customs for all previous years

Even larger falls could beset the regions of Champagne, Bourgogne, Beaujolais, Loire Valley and Charentes, where output could be reduced by as much as 20 – 30%, according to Agreste. In Champagne and the Loire, volumes are forecast to be down by a third according to the region’s trade bodies. And in Bourgogne, volumes could be reduced by more than 20% compared to 2015. As these figures are only forecasts, the picture could still change depending on weather conditions over the next few days.

Affiche France Regions Viticoles 2015-page-001

While yields across France vary significantly from region to region, quality should nevertheless be good. Stocks in some regions should guarantee that wines are available in sufficient quality to satisfy demand (from buyers and importers).

Production levels in line or greater than last year

 In contrast, some regions seem set to see stable, even increased production levels, which is the case for Savoie, the Rhône Valley, Jura, the South West, Bordeaux, Provence and Corsica. In Alsace, CIVA, the region’s trade body, has announced that output looks set to increase to around 1 million hl, bringing volumes in line with average levels after several difficult vintages. In Bordeaux, growers are hoping to exceed the 5m hl level, which would indicate an average harvest according to the Gironde Chambre d’Agriculture. And the quality of the wines is looking very promising. In the Jura, despite grape damage in some areas, overall quantities will see an increase on last year (70,000hl) according to the Jura trade body. Inter-Rhone, the region’s trade body, has also announced volumes on a par with 2015 at around 3m hl.