The challengers of the wine world

What do Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Switzerland, India and the United Kingdom have in common? They are all challengers identified by FranceAgriMer in its latest competitive intelligence report on the global wine market.  Why? What is their potential? We take a closer look at a group of very different producer countries.


  • The key strengths of Bulgaria and Austria
  • The cool climate countries: Canada and Switzerland
  • India and the United Kingdom: potential consumer and producer countries?

The key strengths of Bulgaria and Austria

Vineyards have been a part of the culture of Bulgaria for aeons. The country boasts a wide variety of wine regions and grape varieties, 30% of them native. These are its strengths. On the flipside, the 26,000 hectares of wine grape vineyards are mostly grown by diminutive farms and small producers for their own personal consumption. The large farms account for just 6% of the total, but a whopping 64 % of Bulgaria’s vineyard acreage.  As FranceAgriMer points out: “In a bid to remedy the lack of competitiveness of Bulgarian wines, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a national growth strategy for the wine industry for 2022-2027”.

Austria with its 42,835 ha under vine is a challenger. Its key strengths are the 50% increase in exports of its wines between 2012 and 2021. Its main customers are Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia, but also North America. The industry is also very successful at promoting its white wines and is increasingly focusing on production of organic wines. A case in point is attendance at the organic wine fair Millésime Bio in Montpellier last January by the young winegrower at Kremstal winery. She presented six white wines, including two sparkling, that showed a lot of verve and great drinkability.

The cool climate countries: Canada and Switzerland

Canada is not all about ice wine. Its 13,000 ha of vineyards are entirely geared to producing wine, shared equally between whites and reds. Two thirds of the vineyards are located in Ontario, a quarter in British Columbia and the balance in Quebec and Nova Scotia. For the past decade, its production has remained virtually unchanged at around 650,000 hl, but it only covers between 10 and 20% of domestic consumption.

In Switzerland, the figures are similar. Average production totals 600,000 hectolitres from approximately 15,000 ha under vine. The vineyards are mostly located in the French-speaking part of the country and here, Chasselas is the prime grape variety. In this land of mountains, farming vineyards is often described as ‘heroic’. As national production does not meet the volume requirements of domestic demand, over 75% of the wines drunk in Switzerland are imported.

India and the United Kingdom: potential consumer and producer countries?

Potential consumer?

India is the world’s largest consumer of …whisky!  Although it does boast 150,000 hectares of vines, only 1.6 % is used to make wine, 85 % of which is drunk locally. But what is its potential? Of its population of 1.4 billion 485 million are of legal drinking age. As FranceAgriMer explains: “Consumption is currently limited to 3 million consumers and less than 30 million bottles. But the new middle classes should drive alcohol consumption”. Unsurprisingly, 90 % of wines are drunk in the major cities and tourist areas (Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Goa, Pune).

Potential producer? Conversely, the United Kingdom is a major wine consumer country. It is the world’s third largest importer country by volume and value for wine, with France followed by Italy the leading supplier countries. Ultimately, 99.5 % of wines consumed in the United Kingdom are imported. The main reason for this is that the cool temperatures and dampness of the climate in the United Kingdom are not conducive to growing vines. Among its main strengths are ongoing climate change and the chalky soils in southern England. And that’s exactly where production of sparkling wines is currently expanding, though still on a relatively boutique scale. Total area under vine for wine grapes is just 3,800 ha producing 65,000 hl, 62% of which are sparkling wines. 90 % of the wines are marketed domestically, but they are gradually making inroads in Scandinavian markets.

Anne Schoendoerffer, © Dionisio Iemma/Adobe Stock

Sources :  France Agrimer.   OIV, EUROMONITOR