The Smallest Vintage for at least 50 years
It’s bad news for French wine manufacturers. According to preliminary figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, France’s wine production is predicated to crash to historic lows this year.
As well as facing significant disruptions in the wake of COVID-19, French wine production has also been badly affected by severe spring frosts and unfavourable wet weather this summer resulting in disease in some grapes.
As a result, wine production is predicted to be around 24% to 30% less than 2021. That would mean a total of between 32.6 million and 35.6 million hectolitres, making 2021 the smallest vintage for at least 50 years.
Unfortunately for wine lovers, such a decline could mean that wines from some regions become harder to find, and also more expensive.
In this blog article, we look at the decline in production facing French wine manufacturers and how technology such as hygienic and sanitary pigging systems can help.
France One of the World’s Key Wine Producing Regions
France is one of the largest producers of wine in the world, as well as Italian, Spanish, and American wine-producing regions. Other key wine producers include Australia, South Africa, Argentina, and Chile.
As well as being one of the world’s most famous wine growing countries, France is also renowned for being one of world’s oldest wine regions. In fact, many of France’s wine making regions can trace their wine-related history back to Roman times. They have devoted centuries, if not millenniums producing wines of every style and quality level to perfection.
You’ll probably be familiar with some of the key wine producing regions. They include the well-known French wine region of Bordeaux, which produces one-third of France’s quality wine including red wines and sweet Sauternes. Other key regions include Burgundy, Provence, Rhône Valley, Champagne, Alsace plus others.
Unfavourable Weather Impacting Wine Production
Wine grape vines are notoriously difficult to grow, with many factors including temperature, weather and soil affecting the quantity and quality of each vintage.
Unfortunately for wine producers in France, almost all the wine regions were badly affected by frost in early April – with the damage estimated to be in the $2 billion range. In Champagne, home to the most famous sparkling wines in the world, cold weather and frost caused substantial damage to the wine buds, mostly Chardonnay, with estimated crop losses of 30%.
At the same time, in Rhône Valley and Provence, flowering occurred during cool or humid weather conditions which contributed to the decline in buds. In Bordeaux, Merlot was also hard hit by the unfavourable weather conditions.
Diseases caused by wet weather during the growing season have also hindered the growth of a variety of grapes. In Alsace, due to heavy rainfall causing mildew disease, they are facing a harvest smaller than average. It’s a similar picture for Beaujolais where soggy summer conditions have also led to mildew and other diseases in the vineyard.
Time Will Tell
It’s important to note that in some regions there is still some time to go before grapes are picked. So, only time will tell whether the vintage has been “good” or “poor”.
Equally, the preliminary figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food focus on quantity rather than quality.
And even if the prediction of wine output is correct, the lowest range is still at 32.6 million hectolitres. France will still be producing the equivalent of more than 4.3 billion bottles’ worth of wine which remains a substantial amount.
Growing Role of Technology in the Wine Industry
So, with wine predicted to crash to historic lows this year and facing challenges such as climate change, adopting technology has become a priority for many wine processors and producers.
Technology being widely adopted in France and throughout the world include Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain.
Another technology that is being widely incorporated into wine processing and production is liquid product recovery (also referred to as “pigging”).
From Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Champagne, the benefits of pigging for wine production are extensive.
Pigging Systems for Wine Manufacturers
With wine output declining, recovering as much product during the manufacturing process becomes ever more valuable. And that’s where pigging can help.
Pigging refers to the process of recovering residual liquid from pipelines between batches. The technology uses a specialist projectile (‘the pig’) which has a diameter slightly larger than the pipeline. This enables the HPS hygienic (sanitary) pig to reclaim saleable product from the pipeline, which would otherwise be wasted.
In this way, pigging systems are an incredibly effective way for wine manufacturers to significantly increase their product yields and minimise losses.
Improving Water Efficiency by Pigging
Because HPS custom pigging systems increase product yields, this means less waste, improved efficiency, more productivity, and ultimately better profits for wine makers.
Another key benefit of pigging for wine manufacture is that it helps to reduce water usage. In wine processing and production, large quantities of water is used for cleaning, bottling and hygienic procedures. With water being a finite resource, wine manufacturers are constantly looking to reduce their water consumption to save money and lower their exposure to rising water costs and potential shortages.
Pigging systems are an extremely effective way to reduce water consumption. By recovering practically all the product from the pipe, pigging reduces the effort and resources need to clean pipelines. As a result, the cleaning and changeover process requires less water flushing as well as energy and other resources.
Because of the amount of water it saves, HPS pigging technology is in wide use in wine-producing regions which are also prone to drought. This includes areas of the US and Australia.
In fact, an HPS pigging system is saving Orlando Wines, owned by Pernod Ricard in Australia, 40 mega litres of water per year. Here’s an article about how HPS pigging systems save beverage companies water.
What are the Other Benefits of Pigging?
As well as increasing yields, reducing waste, and lowering water usage, hygienic pigging offers a wide range of additional benefits for wine processing.
Changeovers are much faster with a pigging solution and the chances of product contamination and cross-contamination are greatly reduced. Pigging is also great for the environment, as the technology saves so much waste, water, cleaning chemicals and related transport and disposal costs.
In addition, pigging systems are an effective way to prevent aeration, foaming and dissolved oxygen (DO). This is through the use of specially designed HPS ‘double-pig’ pigging systems which prevent wine from coming into contact with air.
As well as wine, pigging systems are used with an extensive range of beverage products including soft drinks, juices, spirits, syrups, pulps and many more. Pigging is also widely used with food products, confectionery, personal care and cosmetics, paint, coatings, household liquids plus many others. Make sure you check out our case studies – Pipeline Pigging Case Studies.
Find Out More
If you have any questions about liquid product recovery and pigging solutions for liquid processing and production, then please contact HPS – the process system experts.
Alternatively for a free pigging system quotation, please click here.