Looking Ahead: 2019 Wine Production Forecast

grape harvest winegrape 2019 harvest

NOTE: The following information about 2019 wine production was sourced from the wine experts at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits.

WhisperKOOL prides itself on providing timely, useful information to our customers on all wine-related topics. To that purpose, to finish off the week, we’d like to bring you a “wine forecast” for 2019. Let’s take a brief tour of the world and see how 2019 wine production is shaping up.

California

Rosé is the big-ticket item in the United States right now, and experts predict that trend will continue in 2019. Blush wines experienced a surge in popularity starting in 2010, as imports from France rose tenfold between 2010 and 2016. The American obsession with rosé has reached such heights that it’s begun to trickle into other sectors of the drinks industry. Rosé ciders, rosé beers, and even rosé vodkas have begun to appear on the market.

Another wine which has experienced a growth in demand and will likely continue to do so in 2019 is merlot. Wineries across California report that the demand for merlot in tasting rooms is on the rise. Sommeliers look to vineyards in the Napa Valley and Paso Robles to produce the goods. Speaking of the Napa Valley, robust cabernet sauvignon from the excellent 2016 vintage will be entering the marketplace in 2019 as well.

It remains to be seen whether the deadly 2018 wildfires, especially the Tubbs fire (which scorched parts of Napa and Sonoma counties, as well as neighboring Lake County) will have negatively impacted the 2018 vintage. It seems likely that at least a portion of the grapevines in Napa and Sonoma Counties could have been ruined by smoke taint. Smoke taint, as the name implies, occurs when grapes are exposed to excessive amounts of smoke, which can negatively impact their flavor. Phenols from burnt wood leach their way into the grapes through their skins and impart a permanent rough, burnt taste to the juice. Further testing will reveal the extent of the damage, but wine production will continue.

Oregon & Washington

Oregon winemakers report that each one of the last five vintages has been the hottest ever. Soon, Oregon vintners joke, the Willamette Valley may become a hotbed of cabernet sauvignon wine production. For the moment, however, the spotlight is on Oregon chardonnay. Oregon was already renowned for its pinot gris, pinot noir, and a hint of riesling here and there, but Willamette Valley chardonnay is garnering more and more attention…with the awards to prove it.

Washington State is unique in that it has a variety of microclimates and wine varietals packed into a small space. This means Washington vintners can produce everything from dry riesling to heavy merlot. But Washington, like California, is capitalizing on the ongoing rosé craze. Provence, France can hardly keep up with the American demand for rosé, so Washington vineyards are taking up the slack…but they’re putting their own spin on it. Washington rosés are a hodgepodge of blended grape varietals. Syrah and tempranillo, for example, or 100% sangiovese. These create entirely different expressions of a French classic. And speaking of French classics…

France

France’s vintages are finally coming back onto an even keel after a rocky few years. Unlike the 2016 and 2017 vintages, 2018 was relatively abundant, with normal yields and a return to standards of quality and quantity to which French wine connoisseurs are accustomed. Meeting the demand for the American rosé craze, 2018 dry rosés from Provence and Rhône will hit shelves in 2019.

Italy

Did you know that 30% of the world’s wine grapes are Italian? Italy remains the country with the highest number of indigenous grape varieties. Italy’s wine production and exports, therefore, will remain strong in 2019, especially the pinot grigio and prosecco snapped up by the UK and the US. New trend analysis reveals that 2019 wine consumers are more adventurous. They’re willing to shell out a little extra money for something new, fun, exciting, or different. It’s not just about Italian Chianti, pinot grigio, or prosecco any longer. Italy’s got over 600 grape varieties (not counting those which are not officially recognized). Wine experts predict that wines grown with lesser-known grape varietals in Sicily, Campania, and Piedmont will prove popular in 2019.

Australia

Despite some setbacks early this year—including a bush fire that ripped through the Topper’s Mountain vineyard in New South Wales, destroying the entire 2019 vintage just hours before picking was due to begin—Australia’s wine sales remain high worldwide. Australian signature wines include shiraz (the Australian term for syrah), cabernet sauvignon, and chardonnay. But there are new up-and-comers: sémillon, Tasmanian pinot noir, and dessert wines. Australia’s dry rieslings are especially worthy of notice. Decanter recommends these five rieslings to try.

New Zealand

New Zealand, as we’ve read elsewhere, is most famous for its sauvignon blanc, mostly grown on the South Island. But New Zealand’s North Island is warmer and is capable of producing world-class cabernet sauvignon and syrah. Even those champions may soon give way to the lighter, fruitier reds which are trending in 2019, like pinot noir. Given New Zealand’s other excellent wine offerings (riesling, pinot gris, and gewürztraminer), this underappreciated wine region will be one to watch closely in 2019. The New Zealand wine export market remains strong: the number of wineries there producing more than four million liters of wine a year increased from 6 to 17 in the past decade.

South Africa

South Africa’s skill at producing high-quality chenin blanc will continue in 2019. In terms of red wines, South Africa’s traditional offerings (syrah and cabernet sauvignon) will continue to predominate. The world, however, is starting to take greater notice of South Africa’s more obscure wines, such as grenache and cabernet franc, which are increasing in quality every year. Also keep an eye out for some of South Africa’s splendid sparkling wines, particularly brut blends and blanc de blancs.

Argentina

Most famous for the malbec that originates from its renowned Mendoza region, Argentina had one of the best growing seasons in five years in 2018. According to Wine Spectator, the 2018 vintage could prove to be the best since 2013, Argentinian vintners say. A series of wet, chilly growing seasons impeded the growth of a truly high-quality malbec harvest from 2013 to 2018. But a return of sunshine and warmth to the Mendoza region has led to a boost in confidence.

In 2019, according to ABC Fine Wine & Spirits’ staff, cabernet sauvignon from Argentina (some of which can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with cabernet sauvignon grown anywhere else in the world) will also experience growth.

And that’s the wine news from around the world! 2019 wine production will remain strong and follow some of the previous years’ established trends. Time will tell if the Napa and Sonoma fires will affect the 2018 vintages. Follow our blog for more wine production forecasts and wine news from around the world, as well as delicious recipes and wine pairings.

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