Terroir 2020 banner
IVES 9 IVES Conference Series 9 International Terroir Conferences 9 Terroir 2020 9 History and innovation of terroir 9 Diversity and internationalization of wine grape varieties: Evidence from a revised global database

Diversity and internationalization of wine grape varieties: Evidence from a revised global database


Aim: To quantify the extent to which national mixes of wine grape varieties (in terms of vineyard bearing area) have become more or less diversified, and ‘internationalized’, since wine globalization accelerated from the 1990s. 

Method and Results: In addition to bearing area (in hectares), shares and indexes are estimated for each of 53 countries in an updated global database involving 700+ wine regions that account for 99% of the world’s wine grape vineyard area and 1,700+ DNA-distinct prime wine grape varieties and 1350+ synonyms, for 2000, 2010 and 2016. This global database (Anderson and Nelgen, 2020) is a major revision, extension and update of Anderson (2013). Its prime varieties are linked to their country of origin and synonyms are as nominated by Robinson et al. (2012) or otherwise JKI (2019).


These results reveal that vignerons’ wine grape varietal choices are narrowing across the world. That is, they are becoming less diversified as many countries converge on the major ‘international’ varieties, especially French ones. This is not inconsistent with the fact that wine consumers are enjoying an ever-wider choice range, thanks to far greater international trade in wine associated with the current wave of globalization. Nor is it inconsistent with strengthening vigneron interest in ‘alternative’ and native varieties in numerous countries, including Italy (D’Agata, 2014) and Australia (Higgs, 2019). That interest stems in part from a desire to diversify their varietal mix to differentiate their offering – including through the terroir-driven use of minor varieties in blends – and to hedge against increasing weather volatility. It just happens that in recent decades the latter centrifugal forces are dominated by the centripetal force of embracing the most popular varieties for ease of marketing and presumably higher profits. Moreover, the quality of the current global mix of varieties is arguably substantially above the average quality of the top half-dozen varieties as of 1990.

Significance and Impact of the Study: The apparent paradox of reduced diversity and greater internationalization in the world’s vineyards is partly explained by major changes in a few national bearing areas. This new database provides many other insights in addition to those highlighted in this paper. For example, it includes for the first time numerous climate variables for each of its 700+ regions, prepared with the assistance of Gregory Jones of Linfield University, Oregon. That allows one to examine the varietal mix in regions whose climate in recent years is similar to what other regions will endure in the decades ahead thanks to on-going climate changes.


Publication date: March 23, 2021

Issue: Terroir 2020

Type: Video


Kym Anderson1* and Signe Nelgen2

1 Wine Economics Research Centre, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, 5005, Australia
2 Research Associate, Geisenheim University, Germany 

Contact the author


Index of similarity between national and global varietal mixes, index of internationalization of prime varieties


IVES Conference Series | Terroir 2020


Related articles…

Terpenoid profiles and biosynthetic gene expression pattern in Asti DOCG white muscat grapes at ripening as affected by different canopy management protocols

Aim: The main goal of this study was to find an efficient canopy management to limit the high temperature-related aroma losses of White Muscat grapes, and consequently to preserve the quality standards of Asti DOCG wines.

The suitability for viticulture at varying altitudes: a study of grapevine ripening in the Italian Alps

Planting vineyards in cooler climates has been used over recent years as
a strategy to counter the climatic shifts caused by climate change. A move towards higher altitudes in hilly and mountainous wine regions may provide a solution to deleterious effects that increased ambient temperatures have on wine quality. Until now, the influences of higher altitudes and their climates, as well as their effect on vine growing cycles, still holds a lot of scientific uncertainty. The transnational EU-funded project REBECKA (Interreg V-A IT-AT: ITAT1002, duration: 2017-2019) has the objective to develop a regional valuation method to rate the suitability for viticulture in South Tyrol (Italy) and Carinthia (Austria). Preliminary surveys were performed regarding the effects of altitude on ripening performance of the cultivar Pinot Noir.

Oenotannins addition in wine: can be the modulation of redox potential predictable?

The purpose of this research was to study the interaction between oenotannins and wine matrix in order to design a targeted oenotannins addition for modulating the redox status of wine. It is in fact known that oenotannins can regulate the redox potential of musts and wines since they are electroactive substances (1).

Valutazione dell’equilibrio vegeto-produttivo con metodiche di proximal sensing

Nel biennio 2008-2009, nell’ambito di un progetto multidisciplinare coordinato e finanziato dal Consorzio Tuscania, 4 vigneti in differenti zone della Toscana sono stati monitorati con strumenti di proximal sensing al fine di valutare la variabilità riscontrabile e ottenere delle indicazioni sulle risposte vegetative delle piante e quanti-qualitative delle produzioni.

French AOC positioning and their concepts and extension to other products

Constitue une appellation d’origine “la dénomination géographique d’un pays, d’une région ou d’une localité servant à désigner un produit qui en est originaire, et dont la qualité ou les caractères sont dus exclusivement ou essentiellement au milieu géographique, comprenant les facteurs naturels et les facteurs humains …”