This year, Italy is poised to relinquish its position as the top wine producer. Forecasts from producers’ associations Assoenologi and Unione Italiana Vini (UIV), and Ismea research firm, show that the ongoing harvest will fall short of the 50 million hectoliters achieved in 2022. Italy is expected to yield a more modest 44 million hectoliters, allowing French producers to claim the leading spot with an estimated 45 million hectoliters.
However, this shift in rankings does not necessarily signal a crisis for the Italian wine industry. Firstly, the anticipated quality for the 2023 vintage remains notably high. Additionally, Italian wine cellars are currently well-stocked with an impressive 49 million hectoliters from previous harvests.
As climate change continues to exert its influence on vineyards, each vintage becomes a reflection of the varying adverse weather events experienced year by year. These range from droughts and hailstorms to floods. In 2023, the primary challenge has been downy mildew, a disease that has disproportionately affected many regions in Central and Southern Italy. This microorganism, inadvertently introduced from America to France in the nineteenth century, wreaks havoc by depleting and desiccating grape clusters. The confluence of warmth and high humidity has facilitated its proliferation.