el vino y sus crisis a través de la historia

Wine crisis, a walk through history

Throughout the centuries there have been many economic and historical crises that affected the wine industry. From political and social crises that have impacted the sector, such as the approval of the Prohibition in the US, to wars and plagues that have ruined the crops of entire countries. If you want to discover more about wine through economic and historical crisis, continue reading!

The History of Wine and Economy

Wine’s history is a rich one that extends right through thousands of years.  It has close links to economy, agriculture, civilization, humanity, and cuisine. The original form of winemaking came from Iran, Armenia, and Georgia from 8000 to 5000 BC. The grapevine domestication was seen in the early Bronze Age inside Near East, Egypt, and Sumer to about the 3rd millennium BC. The proof of the most initial European wine manufacture and distribution started in Macedonia about 6,500 years ago. Wine was also used in Egypt for prehistoric ritualistic life.

crisis económicas e históricas de la industria del vino

Wine was prevalent in medieval Rome and Greece. Their wine was manufactured using Phoenician and afterward utilising Roman plantations. During those times, the winepress was a crucial improvement in technology, and it enhanced winemaking significantly throughout the time of the Roman Empire era. This brought on diverse grape assortments and endorsed cultivation practices to flourish.

Wine was prohibited in some regions like in ancient Islamic nations at the time. The usage of wine in Christian offerings was extensively accepted all over, and Muslim chemists founded the making of distilled wine for Islamic medical objectives. It was likewise provided as cologne. The production of wine progressively amplified over time, and the drinking of it increased at the beginning of the 15th century. It persisted via Wine historical crisis like the destruction Phylloxera plague produced in the 1870s and established other production regions and distribution later.

Wine historical crisis that has faced the industry over time:

Prohibition act

US President Herbert Hoover referred to it as a great economic and social experiment. Prohibition was an injunction that banned alcohol from being manufactured, transported, or vended. It was established in the US in Jan 1920 and would stay valid for 13 years. During the 13 years, injunction remained on the books with consequences seen not only in the nation’s nascent wine manufacturing but likewise American society on the whole.

When the Twenty-First Amendment was generously consented in 1933, and ban annulled, the damage was already done. It took the United States twenty years to pull through from the ban, at any rate in a viticultural sense. World War II and the Great Depression did not aid things along; nevertheless, Americans’ taste had fundamentally changed, with spirits and beer substituting wine. In those years closely following, the wine that was manufactured amounted to inferior-quality swill.

20th century wine crisis: Phylloxera plague

The phylloxera got developed in the final part of the nineteenth plus early twentieth-century and made a widespread impact throughout Europe. It was caused by an insect, phylloxera vastratix, a tiny aphid species which attaches itself to the roots and leaves of a vine and sucks up the plant sap. It reproduces very rapidly, and though the sap amount sacked by each is small, jointly, this has a big effect. These bugs damage the root of the vine, and eventually, the plant dies.

In Europe, the phylloxera arrived around 1832 to 1840, entering via the Languedoc region of France. The vines importation from the Americas was its origin since they were carriers of the plague against which the European strains lacked defense. From here, phylloxera initially began to spread all over Europe and, ultimately, around the globe, apart from very exceptional instances like Chile.

About 150 years ago, France’s standing as amid the planet’s most celebrated winemakers was under danger from a dreadful disease. When researchers were lastly able to identify the cause, they discovered the blame lay with a petite parasitic insect that traveled over from America. However, it was not entirely America’s liability; the French had imported the issue themselves, although accidentally—and the effect on the wine trade would be significant.

la rioja crisis del vino del siglo 20

During the 1870s in Spain, Phylloxera entered via three distinct areas; Gerona, Malaga, and from the border region of Porto. This pest’s attack didn’t strike some predominantly remote regions and those with sandy soils that stalled the advancement of this distressing pest and its impact wasn’t remotely as big as it was in France.

Although it did leave a great impact in the La Rioja area, which saw its vineyards decrease by 70%. Still, the wine industry in Spain grew considerably thanks to the great debacle of the French market. So the country became the largest wine exporter, surpassing France and positioning itself as the largest supplier to the French country.

Later, the Civil War would plunge Spain into a deep economic and social crisis that would also be felt in the wine industry. To fight the famine that was ravaging the country, the substitution of wheat for vine crops was decreed.


Tokaji wine crisis

Tokaji is the name employed to refer to wine from the Tokaj area in north-eastern Hungary. Sweet Tokaji wine was famous all the globe by the 19th century. Nonetheless, at the close of the century, tragedy hit twofold.


At the outset, American railway links between the eastern and mid-west seaboard made it conceivable for inexpensive American grain to become abundant in the marketplace in Europe. Price fall hit Hungary properly hard. The phylloxera endemic that affected most of Europe coincided with this, destroying vines all over the continent and shattering Hungary’s exceptional varietals. Whereas neither calamity completely paralyzed the wine business—Hungary had 401 vineyard acres by 1910 in comparison to 355 in 1900—these hindrances were doubled over with the beginning of communism. The administration took vineyards control, favoring capacity over superiority, and countless of Hungary’s distinctive vine varieties and the unique quality of viniculture collapsed.

During the early 1990s, they had a damaged reputation and lost the market share of the former Eastern Bloc. In twenty years, they turned everything around, and both family and individually owned vineyards have popped right through the country and began concentrating on superiority and on re-educating the nation on how to appreciate its own wine once more.

Canary Wine Crisis

After the colonization of the Canary Islands in the 15th century, vine cultivation was established in the archipelago with grapes imported from the Mediterranean islands (Malvasía) and Europe. Canarian wine, or Canary Wine, with a peculiar flavor due to the volcanic lands in which it is grown, became very popular among British and Dutch corsairs, thanks to the maritime routes that passed through the Islands. Regular commercial connections were established with London, Holland, France, Malta, Venice, Genoa and present-day Belgium as the most prominent regions.

As maritime routes with America were consolidated, Canarian wine suffered a commercial boom and also acquired peculiar characteristics. The high temperatures and the constant rocking of the barrels in the ship cellars (a phenomenon also known as shaking) provided it with a higher quality. The Canary Wine trade flourished during the 15th and 16th centuries, with multiple writings that speak of its quality.

But with the entry of the 17th century, the British began to install their companies in the Canary Islands, creating the Monopoly company and carrying out abusive actions that ended up curtailing the international boom in Canarian wine. As if this were not enough, the export of Canarian wine was restricted with taxes by the crown. Thus, the Canarian wine had to pay tribute to the ‘Casa de Contratación’ and the ‘Consejo de Indias’.

Four centuries later, Canarian vines have flourished again and have a recognized position on the international scene for the high quality and uniqueness of their wines.


Wine and War

War has affected the wine industry in various parts of the world. One instance was in 1940. At that time, France was conquered by the Nazis, and the German military almost instantly started a crusade of looting one of the things the French hold very dearly: their wine. Akin to others in the French Resistance, the wine manufacturers organized to clash with their invaders; nonetheless the tale of their bravery has stayed generally unknown up to date.

Contemporary wine crisis: Coronavirus

The increase in import taxes on wines already meant a great blow to the industry in late 2019 and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit brought more of the same. This 2020, the coronavirus has arrived to continue bringing bad news to the sector.

el coronavirus y el mundo del vino

It is difficult to diagnose what its effects will be, but for the moment, it has implied the impossibility of holding some very important international Fairs, such as ProWine (Asia) Singapur, Vinexpo Hong Kong, ProWeinVinitaly. Not to mention the effect of coronavirus on wine tourism, and how it has completely paralyzed it.

Coronavirus has led the wine industry to a situation of uncertainty that will have to take advantage of the digital reconversion and the search for new business models.

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