World’s leading wine producers

This article is part of
Wine Investing - December 2013

Wine production in 2012 could be described as very low, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), with yields declining 10 per cent compared with 2011. However, production so far this year is set to improve – but which countries are the ones to watch?


This was the largest wine producer in the world in 2012, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). One of the ‘Old World’ winemakers, the country produced roughly 6.5m tonnes of wine between 2011-2012, making the beverage the most produced commodity in the country. France is best known for its specialist wine-producing regions, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Loire Valley. In 2013 so far the OIV suggests wine production in France has increased by roughly 7 per cent.

Article continues after advert


Another traditional wine-producing country, Italy was the second most prolific source of wine in 2012, producing approximately 4.7m tonnes of the drink. Another ‘Old World’ staple, Italy is considered the world’s oldest wine-producing country and produces well-known grape varieties such as Pinot Grigio, Moscato and Sangiovese. Production in the past few years has been low, but yield in 2013 is expected to improve on the previous two years, with a small rise of 2 per cent, according to the OIV.


Third in the rankings for 2012 production, the country better known for its red wine varieties produced approximately 3.3m tonnes of wine last year. Grapes such as Tempranillo and Garnacha are some of the most widely planted varieties used to produce the reds Spain is known for, such as Rioja, although it does produce some white wines from grapes such as the Albariño. Production in the country has improved significantly from its lows in 2013, with the OIV suggesting the increase by the end of the year could be as much as 23 per cent.


The largest of the ‘New World’ wine producers, the US has improved its winemaking techniques in recent years and is currently the fourth largest producer in the world, with roughly 2.8m tonnes of wine in 2012. Most of the country’s production is based in California, which accounts for approximately 90 per cent of all wine made in the US. The Wine Institute notes that in the US alone the estimated retail value of California wine is $22bn (£13.6bn), with three out of every five bottles of wine sold in the US having been produced in California.


One of the newer entrants into the international winemaking scene, China is the fifth largest producer of wine, overtaking Argentina and Australia. The country produced approximately 1.6m tonnes of wine in 2012. The growing demand for wine in China was one of the reasons given by researchers who suggested earlier this year that demand for wine could outstrip supply, leading to a global shortage of the beverage. This idea has since been refuted by numerous wine organisations.


‘New World’ wine producer Argentina is the sixth largest winemaker behind China, with production of approximately 1.5m tonnes in 2012. Its largest wine-producing region is Mendoza and like Spain it is best known for its reds, particularly its Malbec. Production in the country suffered in 2012, although it is seeing a bounce, with an expected 27 per cent increase in yield in 2013, according to the OIV.