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2021 In Review: Biggest Industry Stories of the Year

Dec 22, 2021

When it comes to non-stop news cycles, 2021 has been one for the record books. That includes the wine world, where everything from weird weather to supply chain hiccups made headline news.

Here are some of the biggest wine industries from 2021.

The Big Freeze in France

Back in April, Mother Nature hit France with three nights of sub-zero temps. The result was a stunning amount of destruction that left many farmers, winemakers included, without their planned harvest. Vineyards across the iconic regions of Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhone valley, and the Languedoc all suffered tremendously, with some regions experiencing a staggering 90% loss.

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Raging Wildfires In British Columbia

Wildfires swept across British Columbia in August with 85 fires hitting the famous Okanagan wine region by August. This led to worry over how grape quality and flavor might be expected. As University of British Columbia Professor of Chemistry Wesley Zandberg explained, "Smoke-exposed grapes can sometimes lead to wines that are… really dominated by these smoky, ashy cigarette-like aromas that are pretty much unacceptable to consumers."

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Global Wine Production Plummets

Between frosts, wildfires, and COVID-related issues like labor shortages and distribution woes, world wine production plummeted in 2021, hitting an almost record low. The three countries typically responsible for the majority of the world's wine — Spain, France, and Italy — all saw their production levels take a nosedive. France saw particularly bad umbers, with production the lowest it's been since 1957.

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Wine Became More Valuable Than Gold

Say what? It may sound crazy, but it's true — according to some investment experts, soaring wine prices in 2021 led vino to outperform both the FTSE100 and gold. This inspired many investors to shift away from troublesome stock market portfolios and start buying up luxury bottles to add to their seller. One example: Salon 2002 Champagne nearly doubled in price this year, hitting $13,345 per case versus just $7,340 the year before.

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Restaurants and Retailers Struggle to Maintain Inventory

What do you get when you combine climbing wine prices with a production shortage and then sprinkle in some supply chain disruptions for good measure? You get a lot of restaurants and retailers that want to buy more wine but can't. Eateries across the U.S. have been forced to whittle down their wine lists to reflect the fact that some of the bottles they're ordering simply aren't arriving, while other big-name purveyors just don't have enough to go around.

Pro tip: If you have a wine you love and you see it available for sale, snap it up. It might not so easy to find the next time you're shopping.

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Major Growth in Wine-Ecommerce

More and more consumers are buying wine online, making 2021 a banner year for anyone with the ability to sell wine via their own website or other digital channels. During initial COVID lockdowns, wine lovers discovered how convenient is to have Cabernet or Sancerre magically show up on your doorstep, and that kind of convenience is hard to let go of. Internet-based wine revenue jumped from 8.6% in 2018 to 16.2% in 2020, and the trend continued this year with direct-to-consumer companies gaining series ground.

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