Wine Market Remains Robust in 2023

The popularity of wine today – and throughout recorded history – has never been in doubt. Water occupies a special and ubiquitous place in the beverage world, obviously. Collectively, we may drink more tea and coffee than wine, and beer certainly has to be considered among the most popular alcoholic drinks.

But even with a long list of beverage options available to us, wine retains a certain cachet – of good taste, sophistication, education, and much more that sets wine apart – and to many, above all other available beverage choices.

Many of us enjoy a glass or two – at home with dinner, in nice restaurants to commemorate occasions large and small, to mark celebrations at the holidays or any of life’s milestones.

Wine is the common bond at social events and friendly get-togethers. It’s a near-universal part of diets and lifestyle across virtually every country on earth.

Wine weaves its way through our history in all sorts of ways. The production of alcoholic beverages dates back more than 9,000 years, surpassing the 5,000 or so years of actual recorded history.

Evidence of mead-making – one of the earliest forms of wine, made from water, honey, and sometimes fruits and spices – can be traced back almost 4,000 years – as much as 14 centuries before the construction of Egypt’s Great Pyramid. It was possible it was even carried in animal skins but the first evidence was in clay jars and amphorae.

The Global Wine Market: Big & Bold

We’ve come a long way from those early days of animal skins in the beverage industry. Today, the global wine industry is a $340 billion enterprise, and Americans can be proud of doing their fair share to keep the industry not just alive but healthy, too. And we have lovely glass bottles to admire while we drink.

We spend about $50 billion yearly on over 840 million gallons of various types of wine. Industry experts say we will remain thirsty, too – with the industry growing to about $456 billion before the end of the decade.

The rest of the world does its part, too.

Wine industry experts estimate 2022 global wine production at roughly 260 million hectoliters – or roughly 6,869,000,000 gallons. That’s down from a peak of 295 million hectoliters in 2018, but the long-term production trend remains fairly stable in the 26-265 million hectoliter range.

Heat and dry conditions in some major wine-producing countries have contributed to declining productivity. But wine aficionados also report good quality in 2022. We’re in no danger of running out of wine, folks.

France and Italy once again jockey for the top spot in the production derby. However, 29 countries around the globe merit recognition as significant wine producers.

But let’s make our look at wine a bit more personal. What do all those numbers mean for the average consumer?

The world produces enough wine to provide every adult (over the age of 15, anyway) with about 1.1 gallons. But certain countries lead the way in per-person consumption – with European nations capturing eight of the top ten spots on the per-person wine consumption list. Only Australia and Argentina are the other two.

The United States clocks in at a respectable number 16 on the per-person consumption roster – but thanks to our large total population win the top spot in overall global wine consumption. That is, individually, we may not drink as much wine as residents of some European countries, but we make up for it collectively. Go, team!

Wine Varieties

The different types of wines produced around the world boggle the average person’s mind. In simplest terms, wine can be either red or white – and everything in between.

But after that, it all starts to get complicated – very complicated.

The most popular types of wines can be summarized in some simple graphics, courtesy of Wine Folly.

But if you want to better appreciate why the wine industry has grown to have a value of almost a third of a trillion dollars, consider a more sophisticated and complex picture of the types of wines available to the discerning oenophile.

There is something for every taste, for every preference, and for every budget.

For instance, a 73-year-old bottle of French burgundy sold at a 2018 Sotheby’s auction for $558,000. A ‘good’ bottle of red table wine can be purchased for about 10 Euros (or $11).

For a deeper dive into the amazingly diverse world of wine, visit sites such as for an excellent overview and learning guide.

Wine’s Health Considerations

The apostle Paul offered some sage advice to his colleague Timothy in the first century AD. Don’t drink only water. Take a little wine for your stomach’s sake and for your frequent infirmities.

Wine advocates love the apostle’s endorsement and cite the health benefits of responsible wine consumption. But they also acknowledge that too much of anything is no doubt dangerous. It may be sugary drinks, candy, junk food and fried foods, or any of a long list of food and beverage choices available to consumers worldwide. And wine is no exception.

Health experts caution against over-consumption and the serious adverse effects on long-term health that come with it. Some advocate total avoidance of alcoholic beverages as the best insurance against such risks. Others favor simple moderation based on certain health benefits associated with moderate consumption.

In particular, they note the antioxidants in wine can reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, with resulting benefits to cardiovascular health. Used in moderation, some health officials also say, wine may have mental health benefits, reducing the risk of depression.

But again, the key is moderation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines recommend one drink per day for men and two per day for women – with a “drink” of wine defined as five fluid ounces.

Speaking of wine, did you know…

  • Beer may be the preferred alcoholic beverage for males (with wine second choice), but for women the favorite is wine.
  • Red wine is the preferred wine choice overallAnd according to 2019 National Wine Day, red wine lovers are more likely to be introverted, to love dogs more than cats, be fans of jazz music, describe themselves as adventurous and spend more per bottle of wine.
  • White wine lovers are more likely to be night owls, to be extroverted, prefer cats, listen to jazz, describe themselves as curious perfectionists and spend less per bottle.
  • Statista reports that almost 7.3 million hectares globally are devoted to vineyards. Wheat – the most widely planted crop worldwide – claims 217 million hectares.

D2D Digs into the Future of Biofuels

We’re excited to dig into biofuels with Colin Murphy, Deputy Director of the Policy Institute for Energy, Environment, and the Economy, and co-director of the ITS-Davis Low Carbon Fuel Policy Research Initiative. During our podcast, we discuss advancements in the space and the massive effect biofuels will have on all points along the supply chain, including our food system.

Prior to joining the Policy Institute, Colin was a Science Policy Fellow with the California Council on Science and Technology, and an advocate for sustainable transportation and energy policy with the NextGen Policy Center, where he helped extend California’s climate programs through 2030.

Colin has a B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering from UC Davis, a M.S. in Science, Technology and Public Policy from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Transportation Technology and Policy from UC Davis.

To read the transcript for this podcast, please click here.

Will reducing beef save our planet?

Are cows really a major cause of climate change? Wealthy nations are not pushing people to switch to a plant-based diet. Will that really work to reduce emissions? What would an all-plant diet for 8 billion people do for the environment? Not to mention that we need 30% of our diet in protein. We investigated this two years ago when Epicurious decided not to include meat recipes and we thought we would post it again given the recent COP28 initiatives.

Every day we choose what to eat. This never used to be a big deal. But today food has become synonymous with politics. I get it. My sister’s family and mine are a close-knit bunch who have mixed views on eating meat. Among our group of children, we have two vegans, two vegetarians, and four meat-eaters.

We love each other a lot and we don’t ask vegans to cook steaks, or the meat lovers to make only plant-based dishes. Instead, we work together to make sure there is enough food for everyone’s plate. Then, we spend our time caring about each other as people, not poking about what we are eating. It is a matter of respect and support for everyone’s choice.

What’s the beef with the UN FAO’s stance on red meat?

At the recent COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai, the United Nation’s Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) stated that developed nations will need to reduce red meat and dairy production to avert a global health crisis.

I have casual conversations with friends and acquaintances who are diligently participating in ‘Meatless Mondays’ or even skipping red meat altogether because they think they are doing a good deed for the climate.

“According to a new roadmap from the world’s peak food security body, wealthy countries will need to cut back meat and dairy consumption to hit health and environmental targets.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN roadmap outlines a way to feed the world over the next 25 years without increasing the emissions and land clearing that drive climate change and biodiversity loss.”

So, is this true? If we significantly reduced beef and dairy output, would we also significantly reduce emissions? Here is a better question: what if everyone knew that meat can be part of a broader climate solution instead of a climate problem?

We want to give you a more nuanced, data-driven perspective so you can come to your own conclusion.

Cows solving climate change?

Raised in Minnesota, I can tell you there is no more beautiful sight than the grasslands. In the late ‘60s, my bedroom window overlooked a wetland prairie. Whether you think of them as prairies, pampas, steppes, or savannas, about one-third of our global land is open grasslands…tall grasses blowing in the wind, full of deer, elk, songbirds, wildflowers, and cattle.

In a recent post, The Nature Conservancy highlighted a metanalysis, “Reducing Climate Impacts of Beef Production”, showing that ranchers, particularly in the U.S. and Brazil, who own both grasslands and beef can cut emissions by 50%.

As a 1,000-acre rancher in South Carolina told one of us at D2D, “I am really a grass farmer.” When cattle roam freely, their hooves dig up the earth, seeds drop in from neighboring plants, manure adds fertilizer, and the grasslands thrive. The open land thrives because it is a carbon sink.

As Meredith Ellis, a cattle rancher from Texas told us, “our ranch is sequestering 2,500 tons of carbon (after enteric emissions) each year – equivalent to taking 551 cars off the road.

Grass-fed and feedlot finished?

Did you know that about 95% of all cattle start their lives on grass and then finish the last third of life in the feedlot? Many argue that once cattle are in the feedlot, they contribute to the atmospheric methane, but it is actually the opposite: grass-fed cattle emit approximately 20% more methane because it takes them about a year longer to reach market weight.

Because of the tremendous environmental benefits of grassland, we are not saying that all cows should be raised in a feedlot, but to point out that corn-fed cattle simply produce less methane.

Additionally, many animal nutrition companies are currently researching for the ‘holy grail’ in animal feed to further reduce the release of methane anywhere from 3% to 50%. The reason? More belching occurs when cattle eat the roughage in the grass versus a highly nutritious and tailored feedlot diet. It is when the roughage breaks down that methane is produced.

Moooving over for dairy to digest methane

Dairy farmers also find ways to contribute to a more sustainable environment, too. The dairy industry has benefited from anaerobic methane digesters for years. Dairy farms collect the cow manure and plow it into rubber-lined ponds right next to the barns.

Each of these coverings looks like a dome and helps capture methane. And then, to make a long story short, methane is used as electricity for the farm or sold back on the grid.

These farms have cheap electricity and are greenhouse gas (GHG)-negative because they use methane rather than fossil fuels. In fact, California has committed to a 40% reduction of dairy methane emissions by 2030 just by using digesters alone.

Just to give you an idea of the importance of animal feed, let’s take a look at India…

They have 56 million dairy cows, more than the E.U., Brazil, U.S., and Russia — combined. Of course, they don’t eat their cows; they just use them for dairy products.

Because their feed and milking systems are not as sophisticated, a cow only produces 2,600 pounds of milk a year versus the U.S.’s 21,000 pounds per cow, on average.

Therefore, India needs eight more cows to give the same amount of milk as one U.S. cow. And at 6 million head, China’s dairy cows have a similar production rate as India.

That is a lot more methane!

What if we don’t eat beef at all?

Lean meats and plants are critical for our health. (Have you had your 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables today?) But the nutrients that meat provides are critical, too. What would happen if all we had to choose from were only plants and grains? To find out what an animal-free country would look like, Robin White and Mary Beth Hall of the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at Virginia Tech and U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, studied the impact of a vegetarian country on U.S. emissions, economics, and nutrition.

In short, White and Hall found a reduction in emissions of 2.6%, or 28% of agricultural emissions. They explain that there would be 23% more food but deficiencies in U.S. nutritional requirements of minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids. For example, eating a lean 8-oz. piece of steak provides you with 45 grams of protein, versus eating a cup of black beans with only about 15 grams. You get more protein with fewer calories.

There would also be an economic impact. What do we tell the ranchers, farmers, feeders, processors, marketers, and more who have invested billions of dollars creating protein for human health, not to mention the trickle-down effects on local economies?

Cows are carbon neutral. Really!

Despite popular thinking, the reality is that cows are neutral carbon emitters! How? Over time, they do not emit more carbon than they eat. It is undisputed that plants pull carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the air and then combine it with water and sunlight to make carbohydrates and oxygen. The plants use carbohydrates as fuel for growth and emit oxygen into the air as a byproduct. Very handy for us as we need that to breathe.

When a cow eats a plant, it consumes carbohydrates – which contain carbon. It swallows the plant into their four-chambered stomach. The first chamber is massive and holds enough food to fill your bathtub – about 50 gallons. After the plant enters their stomach, they bring it back up to chew some more – “chewing their cud.” The food then goes back down to the stomach to be digested by the microbes, called methanogens.

This is when they belch a portion as methane which is then released into the atmosphere. This methane is the culprit, as it is 28 times more potent as a GHG than CO2.

The good news is that it only lasts for about eight to ten years before it converts into one part CO2 and two parts H2O via hydroxyl oxidation.

Here is where it gets interesting: according to Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., Professor and Air Quality Specialist at the University of California, Davis:

“If you are not adding additional cattle or cows to the earth, then there will be no additional methane and no additional global warming.”

As long as more cows are not introduced on the planet, then no additional CO2 is added. For the past ten years, global cattle population has been steady at around 1 billion, yet the average annual presence of methane has steadily increased. Dr. Mitloehner continues, saying “We in agriculture have to do our part but must not be singled out as the 800-pound gorilla we are not.”

Sources for chart:, U.S. Department of Agriculture; USDA Foreign Agricultural Service; ID 263979.

Putting this in perspective

So where does agriculture stand in relationship to global GHG contribution? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it is about 12%.

There is no doubt that methane is a powerful GHG that we want to keep out of the atmosphere. But it does not all come from animals. According to NASA, the methane sources can be broken out as follows: 30% wetlands, including ponds, lakes, rivers; 30% related to oil, gas, and coal extraction; 20% by agriculture, including livestock, waste management, and rice cultivation; 20% wildfires, biomass burning, permafrost, termites, dams, and the ocean. Here are more detailed breakdowns:

Freedom to Choose

We are already so divided as a country on a variety of political and social issues. Why are we doing this with food and our climate? Yes, cattle emit methane. That is a fact. It is also true that humans have creatively adapted to a life of comfort and health for thousands of years. Let’s use methane reduction for cattle as a lesson in innovation to make our food and our planet better. Let the science speak for itself and not let emotions get carried away.

I quickly recall my family and I debating issues at the dinner table, but at the end of the day, we respect each other’s thinking. We are environmentalists. We are fierce advocates of sustainable food, innovation, and making the world a better place while also being pragmatic about protecting humans and animals. And we also realize how incredibly fortunate we are to choose what we eat each and every day.

Ag careers grow beyond the farm

Do what you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

So what is it you love to do?

  • Being in the great outdoors, enjoying all Mother Nature has to offer.
  • Peering into a test tube, unlocking the secrets science has to offer.
  • Interacting with other people, to accomplish important things.
  • Building and producing things with your own hands and imagination.
  • Helping people learn valuable lessons that make life better and more fulfilling.
  • Nurturing and caring for others.
  • Providing a safe, secure and healthy home for those you love.
    …Or something completely different?

In today’s world, it can be almost anything. We all want to do what we love. We want to do something not just enjoyable, but meaningful, too – something that matters not just to us individually, but to the world around us as well.

That drive to combine self-fulfillment with the betterment of the world around us defines a characteristic of the emerging generation of the American workforce.

For the young people seeking not just a job but also a lasting, rewarding career, the task of finding a way of making a living doing what you love may seem daunting.

Just finding any job can be tough. Finding the job may seem like a real challenge.

Where are those opportunities to be found? At Dirt to Dinner, we are perhaps a bit biased. But in our efforts to tell stories from all along the chain from dirt to dinner, we’ve been amazed at the world of opportunities within our food and agriculture system.

Our amazing food system has something to offer for virtually every type of persona and personality – not just jobs, but lasting opportunities for personal and professional satisfaction and reward.

Anyone who believes the food sector can’t compete with the glamor and prestige of other sectors of our economy in offering rewarding careers is simply and sadly mistaken.

Want to do something you love in the work you do. Think long and hard about what the food and agriculture sector has to offer.

You don’t have to run with the herd

Jobs in food and agriculture have real appeal for lots of younger people today, especially those with solid roots in the middle America and Middle American values.

Part of the interest seems linked to a recognition among those with rural roots of the importance of maintaining a vibrant, productive food sector. They see every day just how critical our food system is to feed a hungry world, and provide the economic vitality that keeps rural America alive and well. Food and agriculture are part of their DNA already.

But the appeal doesn’t end there. It’s not just young people from rural areas who see a future in the sector.

The interest extends to people defined less by geographic origins than personality type. That’s where the food and agriculture sector has its real strength. There’s a rewarding career opportunity for virtually every personality type – multiple avenues to finding exactly the thing you love to do.

What is your personality?

The textbook definition of personality is deceptively simple. It’s the characteristic way a person thinks, feels and behaves.

Each of us is an individual – a unique person, with our own likes, dislikes, sources of joy and fulfillment, and aspirations. But we nonetheless fall into types of personalities. Most of us have seen the concept up close and personal at some point in our lives.

It might have been high school, or a job application, or any of dozens of pathways to something like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Tests like this help identify personality types and organize them into logical groupings.

Whatever labels we choose to apply to our diversity of personality types, the ability of the food and agriculture sector to accommodate them becomes very apparent very quickly.

Consider just a few of the possibilities…

The Scientist And Discoverer

So you really like science. You love the challenge of figuring things out, and using your skills to create new things. The world needs what you have to offer – and no one more so than people who eat.

Scientists play an essential role in finding new and better ways to produce not just more food but also healthier and more nutritious food. They hold the key to finding new and better plant varieties, more resistant to pests and helping renew the soil, or animals that grow faster, with less need for feed and water.

They formulate better food and feed ingredients, and more diverse sources of the proteins, oils, sweeteners and other essential components of a heathy diet. The list of potential areas of discovery and development is virtually endless, but here are just a few to get you started:

The Innovator and Inventor

This personality type sees things that others don’t see, and brings new ideas to life. They look for ways to do things better, and they see the potential within new technologies and modern science.

Creating new tools for an evolving global food system demands exactly this mindset and the skills that come with it. Different ways of making the same food. New farm equipment offering greater control in applying fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Remote control equipment. New food processing tools and systems. Better integration of computer controls and automation. The potential for rewarding careers – and an improved food system – are practically limitless. Consider this just a couple of options:

The Teacher and Educator

All the knowledge in the world may be useless unless it is shared. Making smart decisions about our food demands the right information, delivered effectively. It may be in educating people about healthy diets and nutrition, or food storage and preparation. It may focus on helping people understand where their food comes from, and how it is produced.

This important career helps build the consumer understanding and support for producers and others across the food chain from dirt to dinner.

The Marketer and Communicator

Today’s food system offers the widest variety of food choices in history. So how do consumers make smart decisions about what to buy and consume? Marketers and communicators fill this need – not just by hawking a particular brand or product but just as important by providing a steady stream of valuable information about the food products on our shelves.

What are the product’s nutritional content? How do they promote health and well-being? Do they meet our expectations for fair treatment of suppliers, sustainable environmental practices and other socially responsible considerations? They use the latest communication tools and technologies – such as social media – to create new channels for reaching larger, more diverse audiences. These marketing roles you commonly see across all industries, including:

The Business Manager

Guiding the activities of a successful enterprise can be a satisfying and rewarding career path. Few if any enterprises can match the challenges and satisfactions that come from managing a modern farm. Agronomy, logistics, supply chain management, finance, labor – all demand skill and attention.

Others in the food chain also must have the same business acumen. Transportation, storage and warehousing, basic ingredient processing, food manufacturing and delivery, retailing – all demand superior management skills. All the way from corporate headquarters, to processing, to the farm itself. Here are a few to think about:

The Naturalist

Admit it. Some of us simply want to avoid being cooped up in a small cubicle, cramped office – or even indoors, if we can avoid. Being out and in touch with the natural world is what we love. It’s a defining characteristic of most farmers and ranchers. But it’s not limited to them.

Consider the role of an agronomist in dealing with producers regularly. Or as an environmental technician or expert. Or a naturalist who cares deeply about sustainability. The list of potential jobs and careers grows even longer when you consider your other interests, such as gardening, animals and photography.

The Mechanic and Operator

Many of us prefer the real and immediate to the theoretical and abstract. We love the satisfaction that comes from using our heads and our hands to make things work the way they should. We thrive on the results our efforts help produce.

Our food system desperately needs that mindset and skill set. Labor remains one of our food system’s greatest challenges – simply having enough people to do the daily chores demanded of farming or ranching, of maintaining valuable equipment and systems, and being on hand to solve problems and deal with potential emergencies. Or equipment supplier, or any of the dozens of suppliers who interact daily with producers.

The need for reliable, competent mechanics and operators is real – and so are the job and career openings in this critical area.

The Numbers Person

Some people see the magic of numbers all around them. Whether used in as an analytical tool, or in an essential accounting and bookkeeping system, or in scientific research, mathematical and related skills are essential to every segment of the food chain.

A fascination with numbers doesn’t have to be channeled solely into rocket science, or any other single discipline. Our food and agriculture system needs that passion, too, across all sectors and in all business lines., including:

The Cyber Star

Ask anyone across the food chain what their most important tools are, and you may be surprised to find “good data and solid analysis” near the top of the list. We live in an age that demands smart decisions in every aspect of our lives. The food and agriculture sector is no different.

Collecting and organizing data is the first challenge. Turning data into knowledge and insight is just as important. Every segment of the food chain must do both, and people with the computer and cyber skills to put the two halves together have enormous career opportunities in agriculture.

Careers in this space offer more than some of the highest salaries available in the marketplace. Many of those working in this area also point to something beyond compensation. They point to the personal satisfaction that comes from knowing they are doing something important to the world around them. They aren’t helping sell more eye make-up or the latest equivalent of the old hula hoop. They are helping to feed a hungry world.

At the Front Lines

These are only a few examples of the exceptional range of job and career opportunities in our modern food system. To see an even more robust survey of food-related jobs and careers, start with a look at just one source of detailed career help for anyone interested in making our food system their preferred career track, like LoveToKnow’s ag careers page and the USDA’s presentation, too.

In recognition of the job and career opportunities available across agriculture, the Future Farmers of America have created AgExplorer – a career resource dedicated to helping young people identify the employment possibilities and prepare for careers not just in farming and but across the entire food and agriculture sector.

AgExplorer details more than 200 career focus areas, with careful attention to the marriage of computer science and technology to the world of food and agriculture. AgExploer helps students learn about the career opportunities as provides practical, real-world assistance in planning and preparing to find and secure the job and career they will love. That job and career may be in production agriculture, computer systems, environmental science, food manufacturing and sales, biotechnology services – the list goes on and on and on.

Show Me the Money

The range of salaries paid across the food and agricultural sector is predictably broad.

But specific jobs can come with much more attractive compensation levels.

Job sites like and report on some of the highest paying jobs in agriculture in 2023 – including estimates of salaries for farm managers and food scientists in the $61,000-72,000 range, and veterinarians and ag economists making well into six figures annually.