The total 2006 grape harvest is set to reach 280m hectolitres, according to industry forecasts.

The Paris-based International Organisation of Wine and Vine (OIV) unveiled the estimate late last week.

At the same time, the consumption of this year's harvest is projected to reach around 238m hectolitres, leaving a gap of 42m hectolitres. The OIV said that, of the surplus, 5m hectolitres will end up as vermouth, vinegar and brandy.

The organisation also predicted that vine acreage in Europe and the US should continue to decline, while in South Africa, Argentina, Australia and Chile it is expected to increase by about 1%. Future global vineyard development will be largely determined by China, the OIV claimed.

The global figures are based on harvests in 22 countries, 13 of which are in Europe plus the US, Switzerland, Tunisia, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.