April 12, 2016 – Spain just became the world’s biggest exporter of wine overtaking Italy and France. Exports in 2014 came to 22.8 million hectoliters, about 602 million gallons but because most of it was bulk wine, their profits were down.
Somewhat surprisingly, France is the biggest importer of Spanish wine upsetting winemakers in Southern France who seized tankers from Spain and emptied 70,000 liters onto the roadway recently. They complain that Spanish wine doesn’t comply with regulations allowing cheaper production costs, which hurts their livelihoods. They wrote “vin non conforme,” or “wine not compliant” on the Spanish trucks. According to the Spanish, French police stood and watched as the wine gushed over the road and did nothing to stop the protesters.
Of course it became an international incident. The French Ambassador was summoned by the Spanish Foreign Ministry and a statement accusing France of violating European Union rules was issued to Paris and the European Commission.
According to The Local, an English language publication of Spanish news, “The French import Spanish bulk for their ‘vin de table’, for blends and also for re-export – there have been lots of scandals involving French producers mislabeling ‘their’ wine destined for export to the US.”
The USA does not import very much Spanish wine (unless it is coming in marked from France!). As reported by NPR, according to calculations by the Spanish Observatory of the Wine Market, a trade group, out of every $1,000 spent on wine in the U.S. in 2014, only $64 went toward Spanish wine, compared with $316 for Italian wine and $282 for French wine.