Surplus Wine Is Draining Vineyards

By: Anneken Tappe · March 20, 2024 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Too Much Wine

The world’s wine growers are facing a peculiar situation: There’s too much wine and not enough people to drink it.

Just 62% of U.S. adults under the age of 35 drink alcohol, according to a 2023 Gallup poll , down 10 percentage points from two decades ago. This declining demand for alcohol has created a massive surplus of wine.

With sales declining, it has become more economically viable for many vineyards to rip out their vines than to continue producing wine. Some have taken drastic measures like repurposing the wine into other products, switching to a different crop, or shutting down operations altogether.

Oversupply Issues

In California, some producers have destroyed their vines to make room for more economically viable crops, such as pistachios, almonds, and even kiwis. This isn’t just a problem in the U.S., major producers in Australia and France have been similarly affected.

Last year, the French government spent more than $200 million to help vineyards convert tens of millions of gallons of wine into pure alcohol to be used for consumer products, such as hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and perfume. Meanwhile, in Australia, the surplus could fill a whopping 2.8 billion bottles, according to Q3 2023 estimates from Rabobank .

This trend might not change anytime soon. The declining preference for alcohol is particularly concentrated among younger consumers, which isn’t great news for wine makers, and sales could continue to slow in the coming decades.

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