20th March, 2014 by Lauren Eads
Spain’s wine production surged by 41% last year overtaking both France and Italy to become the world’s biggest producer.
According the the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Spain’s vineyards produced 51 million hectolitres of wine last years, beating competitors France and Italy which produced 42m and 47m respectively, placing it number one in the world.
More than half of last year’s harvest came from the region of Castilla-La Mancha, with the bumper harvest which led to Spain becoming the world’s biggest wine producer in 2013 put down to a wet spring and sunny summer.
Ángel Ortega, who represents wine-growers from La Mancha denomination, told The Guardian: “It’s not often that you see all the right climate conditions come together like that.”
The country has the largest planted surface of vineyards in the world, but inefficiencies in production have long seen Spain lag behind France and Italy.
Pau Roca of the Spanish Wine Federation, said recent investments in planting and irrigation systems as well as a renewed focus on productivity combined with a year of great weather had helped.
However there is concern among winemakers of whether they will be able to sell the 15 million additional hectolitres of wine produced this year over last.
Castile-La Mancha, which produced more than half of last year’s harvest, is not as established as competing Spanish wine regions and styles such as Rioja and Cava.
The region’s cooperative of 682 producers exported just 20% percent of its output a decade ago – now 86% goes abroad, according to a report by thelocal.es.
Jorge Martinez, a viticulturist of the region, told the newspaper: “Unfortunately, wine from our region is still not sufficiently appreciated, especially in the foreign market.”
The definitive production figures from the International Organisation of Wine and Vine will be published in May.