Extreme weather-driven wine slump may benefit Canadian producers, importer says
'If people are dying, you can be rest assured grapes are dying,' wine importer says about global disasters
Wine production around the world may hit record lows this year — but Canadian vineyards could come out ahead, a wine importer says.
Vineyards in this country were lucky to escape the wildfires in British Columbia over the summer, and may in fact see a bit of pickup if imported wine suffers, wine importer Cam MacCorquodale told the Calgary Eyeopener on Friday.
"When you walk in a wine store, you do see sales on import wine all over the place and this is because of a big glut," he said. "And that glut won't exist from the 2017 vintage."
He doesn't believe the price of domestic wines will decrease, but says the prices of imported wines might go up.
Climate change, fires
For several years, industry groups worldwide have reported on extreme weather and climate change negatively impacting the wine industry.
In 2017, wine production is projected to hit record lows, according the International Organisation of Vine and Wine's annual report released this week.
The group predicts this year's volume of wine produced will be 8.2 per cent lower than last year — due to "consecutive to climate hazards" — and without taking into account the brutal wildfires that decimated many vineyards in the Sonoma and Napa valleys in California.
MacCorquodale, who is the president of Calgary-based South By Southwest Wine Imports, has travelled around the world visiting vineyards and wineries. He recently went to South America and one of his colleagues showed him a video of hail.
The hail was as large as grapefruits — big enough to kill livestock and ruin vineyards.
"I've been around vineyards my whole adult life, and you can see the devastation from the grape trees themselves being destroyed," MacCorquodale said.
"We asked our host when we were down there, 'What's causing this?' And again, it was extreme weather patterns."
'Rest assured, grapes are dying'
He also went to Italy, one of the world's largest wine producers. The country faced a heat wave last summer so extreme that it was dubbed Lucifer. At least two people died.
"We were there in June and where it should be 24, 25 C, it was more 41 to 44 C," MacCorquodale said. "If people are dying, you can be rest assured grapes are dying."
Western Europe, a long stronghold for wine, is suffering the most from "exceptional weather events," such as drought and frost, the International Organisation of Vine and Wine says.
Across the European Union, grape harvest volume is predicted to be 15 per cent less this year than in 2016, the report says.
The main wine producing countries, France, Spain and Italy, are expected to be hit the hardest.
- FEATURE | Climate change and the wine industry
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.