How important is wine production to a country? An international ranking

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3.4 litres per person. That’s how much wine is made in the world. A back-of-the-envelope calculation of how much wine is made per person in the major wine producing countries can give us a rough proxy for how important wine is for a country’s economy. Spain, Italy and France are, unsurprisingly, on the top of that ranking as the countries where wine production is most important to the economy. More surprising is perhaps that the fourth country on the list is New Zealand. Equally surprising is (perhaps) that Germany is far down the list. Here’s the full analysis.

This is one part of our series of articles on the status of the world wine sector in 2020:

Which country makes most wine per capita

The world as a whole makde 3.4 litre of wine per person in 2020, a surprisingly high number, considering that the majority of people on earth do not drink wine.

NB: all numbers on wine production is from 2020.

One way of looking at the comparison of wine production per capita is as an indication of how important the wine industry is for the economy of the country. It would be interesting to compare the value of the wine produced by each country to the country’s GDP. That would be an even better indication of how important wine is to a country. But I have not found a good source for the national value of wine production. So production per capita will have to do as a proxy.

The barrel cellar at Chateau Phelan-Segur in Saint Estephe, Bordeaux
The barrel cellar at Chateau Phelan-Segur in Saint Estephe, Bordeaux, copyright BKWine Photography

Spain makes the most wine per capita, 86 litres for each Spaniard. However, as you will see in the following articles on wine consumption and on world trade in wine they are not that keen on drinking all this wine that they produce.

The other two of the Big Three, Italy and France, follow with 82 litres produced per person for Italy, and a bit further back with 69 litres per capita for France.

In fourth place we have New Zealand that makes 65 litres of wine per person, almost as much as France. But they are even less keen than the Spanish to drink their own wines, as you will see in the following articles.

China, Brazil, Russia and the USA are at the very bottom of the ranking of wine produced per capita. Not surprising either with their large populations. It also shows that although the US is the biggest wine consumer, the biggest market for wine, wine is not that important from an economic viewpoint for the country.

Also Germany, although it is a very famous wine country, makes very little wine per person, only 10 litres.

The barrel cellar and tasting room at Clos Apalta-Lapostolle, Colchagua, Chile
The barrel cellar and tasting room at Clos Apalta-Lapostolle, Colchagua, Chile, copyright BKWine Photography

There are various other estimates of the importance of the “wine sector” to national economies. For example, Statista says that the wine market had revenues of 50 billion USD in 2020, with France in second place with 25 billion USD (they estimate the global wine market to $ 341 bn). Wine America, on the other hand, estimates that the US wine market contributes $220 bn to the economy (2017). In Australia the wine sector is estimated to contribute 46 billion AU dollars each year according to AgEconPlus/Wine Australia. These numbers often include many other activities than the actual wine production, e.g. (wine) tourism, retail etc and vary much depending on the source.

So, for the moment I will stick to production volume and population for the comparison of how important wine is to a country’s economy. Here’s the top list ranking.

Wine production per country per person, world-wide

# vol rankCountryProd M hl 2020Population (million)Prod per capita, litre
4USA #22.8329.57
7South Africa10.459.318
10China #6.61402.10
14New Zealand3.35.165
98Other countries15.4
99World total2607752.83.4

# vol indicates ranking in volume, except 98 and 99 that are just there for sorting purposes.

Note: You can sort the table by column.

Important: This table only includes the biggest wine producing countries. There are smaller wine producing countries where wine is a very important national source of income, for example Moldova.

Population numbers come from

All data comes from the OIV, International Organisation of Vine and Wine, unless otherwise specified.

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