Note: BBC updated to clarify that China is number two in vineyard coverage rather than in wine-growing.
Social media is abuzz with news that China has overtaken France as a wine-growing region and is now second only to Spain. It comes in large part from this BBC report that cites International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) statistics.
The BBC headline—”China overtakes France in vineyards”—might well be accurate. The problem is with the first sentence: “The International Organisation of Vine and Wine (IOVW) said China now had 799,000 hectares (1.97 million acres) of land devoted to wine growing.”
The OIV states that China has nearly 800,000 hectares of vineyards, period (go to this page and click the “press release” link). The BBC seems to be assume these vineyards are used only for wine when, in fact, the large majority in China are devoted to the nation’s massive table grape and raisin sectors. From this USDA report (my highlights):
China’s MY2013/14 table grape acreage is estimated at 730,000 hectares, an increase of nearly 10 percent from the previous year, with Red Globe, Kyoho, Thompson and Muscat as the most popular varieties. Grapes are the most widely grown fruit in China, with new varieties being grown that adapt to local climate conditions and increase the planting zones.
To put it another way, Ningxia, one of the country’s leading wine regions, has only 40,000 hectares of vineyards devoted to wine, a tiny fraction of the nearly 800,000 hectares cited by the OIV.
Plus, the same OIV statistics show wine production in France is about four times higher than in China. If China has more vineyards devoted to wine, how can there be such a disparity?
It’s easy to see how this happened. The OIV statement—again, go to this page and click the “press release” link—groups all vineyards together but is almost entirely about wine production. That makes it easy to assume the vineyard stats are solely related to wine.
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