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Compositional Changes to the Vineyard of England & Wales

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The vineyard area of England & Wales has increased every year since 2004 according to official figures in the UK Vineyard Registry which is maintained by the Food Standards Agency.

UK-Vineyard-Planting-cyclesFor 2012, the total vineyard area of England & Wales was estimated to be 1,438 ha, of which 90% was bearing. The vineyard expansion which has occurred in the current cycle since 2004 differs from previous plantings in several key aspects.  These include the scale of investment, rate of planting and increased use of technology to map soils and ensure precise planting patterns.  Yet the most important and long-lasting change is in the choice of cultivars that have been planted.

UK-Top-5-varietalsIn 2004 the UK’s most planted cultivar was the hybrid varietal Seyval Blanc (94 ha) followed by the German crossing Reichensteiner (89 ha).  Plantings of Chardonnay at that time were a mere 36 ha.  Fast forward to 2013 and Chardonnay has become the UK’s most planted cultivar with 327 ha, closely followed by Pinot Noir with 307 ha.  The spectacular growth of these two cultivars follows the recognition of the very high quality potential of the English sparkling wine category.  Almost all recent investment into the English wine industry has been directed towards sparkling wine and the cultivars of choice are those used so successfully in Champagne.

UK-Vineyard-Varietals-2004-Whereas Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made up 13% of the UK’s vineyard in 2004, by 2013 they occupied 44% of a much larger national vineyard.  The English wine industry is very much nailing its colours to the mast of sparkling wine and, judging by the quality from producers such as Nyetimber, Ridgeview and Camel Valley, this looks to be a very sound move indeed.

 

Oregon Wine Grape Vineyard Reaches 10,000 ha – 60% Pinot Noir

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The Oregon Wine Board is the agency responsible for supporting and promoting the wine grape and wine industries in Oregon.  They also have a research and educational role and serve as a central depository for Oregon State wine industry statistics.

Oregon-vineyard-area-by-colThey have recently published the results of the 2012 Oregon Vineyard and Winery Census (PDF), which on this occasion was compiled by the Southern Oregon University Research Center (SOURCE).  It itself includes a wealth of information but, when combined with previous Annual Vineyard Reports by the US National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), shows the extent of the industry’s growth over the past 30 years.

The total Oregon wine vineyard was estimated to be 10,306 ha in 2012 – the first time that Oregon has broken the ten thousand hectare mark.  This represents a significant jump from the reported figures for 2011 (8,262 ha).  The change is due not only to the planting of new vineyard, but to a change in the census approach taken by SOURCE compared to NASS, which probably now makes the census slightly more complete.  Until 1998 white cultivars occupied a greater share of the Oregon wine vineyard than black cultivars. The latter have continued to occupy an increasing proportion of the total vineyard since 1998 as the white vineyard area has shown only very slow growth.  In 2012 black cultivars made up 74% of the Oregon wine vineyard.

Oregon-major-varietalsThe expansion of the black grape section of the Oregon vineyard is almost entirely due to extra plantings of Pinot Noir.  Unlike Washington where a number of different cultivars each occupy a significant share of the total vineyard, here Pinot Noir (6,224 ha) alone makes up 60% of the total vineyard.  Other cultivars are very much overshadowed, with Pinot Gris (1,388 ha) being the next most planted, having taken the second place spot from Chardonnay in 2000.

To put the area of Oregon Pinot Noir in context, the total Pinot Noir in some other New World countries in 2012 was estimated as follows: Australia (4,767 ha), Chile (3,500 ha), New Zealand (5,388 ha).  Oregon’s Pinot powerhouse looks set to play an increasingly important role in supplying Pinotphiles, both in the US and overseas.