PARIS (Reuters) - The good news for wine drinkers is that an increase in French barrels will keep European volumes stable despite severe droughts sweeping the continent, and while yields fell in most countries, farmers foresee a particularly good quality vintage.
Several EU countries including France and Spain have suffered one of their worst droughts on record this year, exacerbated by successive heatwaves.
The three biggest wine producers, Italy, France, and Spain, are together expected to produce 130.2 million hectolitres this year, up 1.1% from last year but down 2.1% from the 5-year average of 132.9 million hectolitres, farm union Copa-Cogeca said on Friday.
Decreases in yields were recorded in most other producing countries, it said.
"Overall, the 2022/23 harvest is characterised by the impact of the droughts and scorching temperatures raging across Europe and leading to a precipitate harvest and reduced yields. On a positive note, grapes are in a very good phytosanitary state, portending wines of excellent quality," it said in a statement.
In a breakdown per country, the union representing European farmers and cooperatives said that in France, production was expected to rise 16% to 44 million hectolitres, echoing a farm ministry estimate from the EU's second largest wine producer.
It said that in top producer Italy wine output was expected to be virtually stable on year, although it did not give a detailed forecast
In contrast, output fell 10.5% in Spain after vineyards suffered from the lack of rain and water, it said.
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Jason Neely and Frank Jack Daniel)