Prosecco, an Italian white sparkling wine traditionally made from Glera grapes, enjoyed a boom in sales last year.
But leading Prosecco producer Bisol has warned of a possible shortage of the tipple this summer.
“Last year’s harvest was very poor, and down by up to 50 percent in some parts, so there is a very real possibility of a global shortage,” Roberto Cremonese, export manager of Bisol told the website The Drinks Business.
“We’ll find out how big the problem is in August when the brokers release their stock. At the moment we don’t know how much Prosecco they’re holding on to.”
He added that wine merchants were taking advantage of the demand to put prices up, in some cases by 50 percent.
“The négociants hold the power at the moment as they bought all of the stock. It might turn out that some of them have no fizz left but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Cremonese said that grape growers were also using the demand to raise prices and restrict sales.
Lighter, generally less dry and significantly less expensive than its French rival champagne, Prosecco has seen its overseas sales surge at a time when a grim economic backdrop has left domestic consumption flat in volume terms and shrinking in value.
“I think it's got to do with the recession, and the price,” said Angela Lynas, a Scottish wine merchant who was one of thousands of professionals attending VinItaly.
“But it is also about the relative sweetness – it's not as dry as champagne.”
Produced in a small, hilly corner of the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy, Prosecco was a well-kept secret until a decade ago, with only a tiny proportion of output heading to Germany and Switzerland.
Nowadays total production of the different categories of the fizz totals some 380 million bottles per year with the value of sales at the point of consumption in the region of €3 billion ($3.2 billion).
The bulk of the output is classed as Prosecco DOC – which means it must be produced in the designated production area around 70 kilometres (42 miles) north of Venice.
Prosecco Superiore is made in a more limited area in and around the villages of Coniglio and Valdobbiadene, which includes the micro-zone of Cartizze, where the self-styled “Grand Cru” of the region is produced. Top grade Prosecco can also come from nearby Asolo, which has its own appellation.
Italy now accounts for only 30 percent of Prosecco Doc sales thanks to its export success. Exports to the US were up 34 percent last year while the British market grew 60 percent.