When writing about why the wines of Spain have lacked fame, I made mention that for 2021, Spain produced the second-largest amount of wine in the world of any country. Again, this begs the question as to why it’s not held in the same regard as Italy and France; numbers one and three. To address those issues, I suggest a read of my previous article if you haven’t already.

In taking a larger look at 2021, Spain moved up one spot, taking second place from France. But, it’s not that Spain produced more wine in 2021 (it actually dropped 14% from 2020), but that France produced so much less. Due to the handy mountain range that separates the Iberian Peninsula from France, the frost, hail, and other environmental issues that France saw in 2021, didn’t reach Spain. It was a topic that came up often when researching my Terrasses du Larzac report as some people lucked out and saw no loss, but others were completely wiped out that vintage mainly due to frost.

Note that this is a region only 140km north of the border with Spain. It was far worse in Burgundy.

But if Spain has so much vineyard area (the most in the world) and is producing so much wine, where is it going? It’s not Spaniards themselves drinking it despite home consumption increasing 47.5% during 2020. That will obviously be dropping off now that venues are open and the fact that all studies have shown personal consumption volume dropping year over year.

The answer continues to be, export, although Italy is still #1 and Spain #2. There’s a big difference however in that Spain exports over 52% of its wine in bulk at exceedingly rock-bottom prices of 0.44€/l (or even less in some cases). As we’ve found out recently, some is resold under false pretenses at higher prices.

Do note that France still sells about 33% less wine than Spain but earns 300% more from wine sales. This is largely due to France’s perception as a “fine wine” source as opposed to Spain, although it’s changing slowly in some markets for Spain.

Weirdly, something that’s been good for Spanish wine has been the pandemic.

For decades, the wine trade has relied far too much on HoReCa sales domestically. The reason being that’s where tourists typically buy their wine and tourism is big, making up 8% of the country’s GDP. Unfortunately it’s also quite variable.

Spanish home consumption has generally been quite low when compared to France or Italy. In fact Spain is #11 in personal wine consumption, with Italy and France essentially tied for the #2 and #2 spots. Number one? Portugal, oddly enough.

As the HoReCa sales dumped when everything was closed due to the pandemic, Spanish spending on wine for home consumption actually went up by 15% in 2020 and this was on top of an increases in 2019 already. These are all positive directions, although supermarket sales make up 1/3 of those wine sales with wine shops being but a mere 6%.

So while there’s growth, it’s still in need of a bit of redirection towards more caviste and less 2€/l “stuff”. It should be noted that this is something which needs to be improved upon in just about any wine market.

One may wonder why I’m talking about the 2021 figures and not 2022? It’s due to the fact that 2022 figures are merely provisional and probably won’t be certified until the end of this year. It’s already quite clear to see that for Spain, it will drop a good deal in terms of production.

2022 was a hot, unrelenting vintage in all regions of the country which gave smaller yields overall. Interestingly, despite the adverse weather, the resulting wines are showing promise and so it’s not a total write off.

What will also be interesting to see is if the consumer trends for wine continue in Spain now that hospitality venues have fully re-opened and tourism is, for better or worse, booming again. And of course, there’s the ever-looming issues of Climate Change and while one year may go very well (such as it did in 2021), what was seen in 2022 with hot, dry weather and little water, is likely to continue, thus making it more expensive to produce wine in Spain and potentially making dirt-cheap activities such as bulk wine sales untenable.

I’d also like to think/hope that a number of changes such as selling online and direct to consumers will stay around as it’s much more beneficial to both the winery and the consumer, but I suppose we’ll have to wait another year and see what that may bring.

Until then, raise a glass and enjoy.

* Figures derived from OIV statistisc as well as CaixaBank Sector Analysis


2 responses to “Spanish wine in numbers”

  1. Gerald Ledford says:

    Sorry, what is HoReCa?

    • Miquel Hudin says:

      Hotels, Restaurants, Cafés/Bars. It’s a term used more in Europe but I see it popping up more in the US. Brits also say “on trade”.

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