Grapes are a popular agricultural crop all over the world. There are more than 10,000 different varieties of grapes worldwide, which are consumed in a variety of forms. Whole grapes intended for fresh consumption are called "table grapes." Grapes can also be dried to make raisins, preserved in jams and jellies, or crushed to make juice.
Global grape production currently amounts to more than 75 million metric tons per year. Today there are well over 18 million acres of cultivated vineyards worldwide. Italy produces the majority of the world's grapes, with an annual grape production of 8,307,514 metric tons. France and the United States aren't far behind, with annual productions of 6,740,004 and 6,206,228 metric tons, respectively. Spain and China each produce well over 5 million metric tons each year. Turkey produces 3,763,544 metric tons annually. Argentina, Iran, and Chile have an annual output of more than 2 million metric tons, and South Africa produces a solid 1,587,913 metric tons each year.
Much of the world's grape cultivation is intended for the production of wine, and nearly all of the countries on this list are among the world's top wine producers. Over 60% of the world's wine is consumed within Europe, with Italy, Spain, and France dominating the world's wine export market. Over half of the world's wine is exported from these three countries.
Europe's Wine-Making Giants
Italy is home to more than one million vineyards located in almost every region of the country, and wine has been produced here for thousands of years. Starting in the second century BC, the Romans pioneered techniques of large-scale wine production and developed innovative storage solutions for barrel making and bottling.
Nearly all of the world's most popular wine grapes are French varieties, having either originated in France or become famous through French winemaking. Many of these grape varieties are household names to wine consumers, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. The French are prolific wine consumers as well as producers, drinking nearly 74,000 gallons of wine in 2014.
Spain, due to its ideal Mediterranean climate, is also one of the top grape-producing countries in the world. Table grape production amounts to between 120,000 and 140,000 metric tons annually.
Grape Production In The Americas
The United States is the third largest grape producing country in the world, after France. Nearly a million metric tons of US grapes are produced for eating, around one-seventh of the country's output.
Argentina is an emerging player on the international wine market. It is also the seventh largest grape producing country in the world. Vine cuttings were introduced to Santiago del Estero in 1557, and grape cultivation quickly spread to neighboring regions and, later, to other parts of the country.
Although Chile ranks ninth in grape production, the country is a world leader in table grape exports. Over 800,000 metric tons are exported each year, primarily to North American and European markets. Chile and many common French grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenère, and Franc were introduced to the region in the mid-19th century.
Asia, Africa, And The Middle East
China has recently become one of the world's biggest grape producers. The country is home to world's second largest wine growing area, comprised of nearly two million acres of vines. Wine production is second to table grapes, which are consumed in the country or shipped to Southeast Asia.
South Africa has been producing wine since the mid-17th century. Most vineyards and are concentrated around Cape Town.
Iran and Turkey
Iran and Turkey are two countries with high levels of grape production despite the fact that very little of Turkey's population consumes wine, and wine consumption is illegal in Iran. But both countries have an ideal climate for grape cultivation and produce massive amounts of table grapes and raisins.