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Wine’s Mammoth Water Footprint: 120 Liters To Make One Glass?

I ran across a surprising article in the Economist this week (Thirsty Work) which tells me that it takes 960 liters of water to make a single liter of wine. Or 720 liters of water for a 750 ml bottle.


That Economist article was based on data obtained from the Water Footprint Network which  told me that wine has a mammoth water footprint — considerably larger than most NBA players:

“Water footprint: 120 litres of water for one glass of wine. One glass contains about 125 ml of wine. Most of the water behind the wine is for producing the grapes.”


After considerable clicking around, I found no solid data. Do any readers have an idea if this is accurate?

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5 Responses to Wine’s Mammoth Water Footprint: 120 Liters To Make One Glass?

  1. Richard Camera

    If you used 1 acre foot of water for both frost control and irrigation of one acre vineyard that would be 325,851 gallons per acre. This is not a bad assumption in some areas but could be way off either way in others. At 5 tons per acre, again just an assumption that can be up or down depending on where you farm, that’s 65,170 gallons of water per ton (60 cases of wine per ton), or 1086 gallons per case. or 90.5 gallons per bottle. Wine making would add some more to this and again will have a wide range depending on the winery’s focus or not on water conservation. So the figure that you mentioned is not out of the realm of someones water use. with 5 glasses of wine per botle that’s 18 gallons of water per glass of wine and that’s about 90 liters of water.

  2. ian

    There’s something not quite right about this analysis. This chart suggests we should all feel great about drinking bottled water!

    It’s not like the water used in making wine or any agricultural product is simply wasted. Water used for irrigation goes back into the water cycle through runoff, transpiration and evaporation. Water used in wineries is often times recycled through wastewater treatment and used for irrigation. And vineyards typically use a lot less water than many row crops, so it would be interesting to chart how much water is “used” to grow the food we eat (likely a huge amount).

  3. lperdue

    Comment sent via email (reprinted by permission)
    John Smith, Oakstone Winery wrote:

    Lewis–our Sierra Foothills vineyards are drip irrigated, and each vine gets about 325 gallons (1,249 liters) of water each year. The average vine produces 20 pounds of grapes, which makes, on average, 1.3 gallons of wine or 4.92 liters, and thus each liter of wine requires about 250 liters of water. Other irrigation schemes (furrow or flood irrigation) use more water, but not three times as much. The amount of water used in wine production is perhaps two liters per liter of wine.

    One point on the curve, anyway.

  4. AC

    In Eldorado County this week. Vineyard manager told me they use 190 gallons per vine. Said that was considered normal in California vineyards

  5. TC

    “After considerable clicking around, I found no solid data. Do any readers have an idea if this is accurate?”

    That’s the economist for you….just likes to post alarming topics with no indepth research or substantiation.

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