Wine industry takes glass-half-full view on supply

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China is planting more and more vineyards, the US is reclaiming wine regions abandoned during Prohibition and the English are producing more bubbly than ever before.

And with global production expected to increase still further in coming decades, the supply of wine would seem assured for some time to come.

"There are new vineyards (in China), so many new vineyards planted that have not yet begun producing," says Bruno Butragueno, Asia Pacific director for Rioja giant Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana.

But that view was dealt a blow last month with the publication of a report predicting a global wine shortage and higher prices.

US bank Morgan Stanley forecast a shortfall with wine drinkers demanding more than the world’s vineyards can produce.

Allan Sichel, vice-president of the Bordeaux Wine Council, says demand is growing steadily in Japan and exports to America have increased by 15%.

Demand in countries such as newly wealthy China is only predicted to rise too.

"With more and more Chinese travelling overseas … being introduced to wine and experiencing the Western drinking culture, it will only bring up the demand," says Judy Leissner, CEO of Grace Vineyards in China.

According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, global wine production will continue to expand, reaching 281-million hectolitres this year compared with 258-million hectolitres in 2012.

English sparkling wines are contributing to that boost in production.

"The future for English sparkling wine is extremely bright with new producers establishing themselves every day and hundreds of hectares of new vineyards being planted regularly across (southern counties) Sussex and Hampshire and Kent," says Christian Holthausen of Nyetimber, which pioneered English sparkling wine 25 years ago.

In Argentina, too, Bodegas Santa Ana — with an annual production of 60-million bottles — continues to plant new vines and buy up existing vineyards, according to export manager Martin Navesi.

But is it enough to quench the global thirst for wine?

Growers say their cellars are far from empty.

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