Of all days to learn about a world wine shortage, Election Day is certainly not ideal. And yet, for thousands of French winemakers, 2016 was an awful year, one of the worst in 30 years, the Independent reports. Numbers from the Ministry of Agriculture show production was down by a third in Champagne and other wine regions. With the stress of our country’s future looming overhead, the thought of not having wine to cope — or a third the amount of Champagne — is almost unbearable. So what’s behind this sad, unfortunate reality?
Climate change, global warming, and extreme weather conditions are to blame for a less-than-average harvest all over the globe (“All that was missing was a plague of frogs,” one winemaker told the Independent). And while France has been getting much of the media’s attention, the southern hemisphere is suffering equally, Food&Wine reports. The El Nino has slammed Brazil and Argentina with exceptional amounts of rain, making the former’s production fall by up to 50 percent and the latter’s harvest decrease by as much as 35 percent in certain regions. Consequently, this has caused Argentina to drop four slots on the global wine producing charts, from fifth largest to ninth largest wine producing nation. Chile and South Africa have also felt the burden of these extreme weather conditions, with South Africa’s production down nearly 20 percent.
Meanwhile, over in France, nearly every wine producing region has been affected in some way. Over the summer, a visit to France found winemakers complaining bitterly that frost devastated much of the vines in the Loire Valley, while hail pelted down on Burgundian vineyards, making these two extremes the culprits of this European catastrophe; some producers have been left with next to nothing. The 2016 harvest has been deemed the worst in decades, with producers losing up to 75% of their crops, and some the total yield, the Independent reports. Like Argentina, France has dropped down the top wine-producing countries list, giving up its first place title to neighboring Italy, a coveted distinction that both fight for every year.
The one bright side of this devastating shortage? French producers say that the grapes they’ve been left with are of extremely high quality, with promising bottles ahead, albeit in minimal quantities.
Our advice? When available, stock up on your favorite 2016 bottles as soon as they hit the shelves of your local store. Or, broaden your horizons and pick up a craft beer or whiskey habit. Bourbon, anyone?