Harvest news – Europe harvests early, USA late
The northern hemisphere’s grape harvest has been driven by extremes this year – while Europe is harvesting around two to four weeks early, the west coast of the USA is up to six weeks behind schedule.
Climate change expert Dr Greg Jones, from the University of Oregon, said the “huge variability” in seasons, a signifier of climate change, was posing major difficulties for growers. Jones said the big question for agribusinesses was whether the extremes would “swing further” or regulate themselves.
“It’s easy to adapt to slowly changing conditions over time, but wider swings are much harder to negotiate [in short periods]”, he added.
Jones, who is currently in Portugal’s Douro valley and has travelled to vineyards across Spain, Italy, France and Germany this summer, said grape growers had to be “creative”, managing the changing climate by adjusting varieties, trellising, pruning, irrigation or soil and use of cover crops.
Julia Trustram-Eve, marketing manager for English Wine Producers, said that harvests were about a week early across England dependent on the variety.
Ernst Büscher, of the German Wine Institute, forecast a “really good vintage” if the weather stays dry for the next four weeks. Picking has already begun, with varieties such as Müller-Thurgau showing good quality.
White Pinot will be harvested within the next couple of weeks, while Riesling is not expected to start before the end of September.
Büscher added that overall, “the physiological development of the vines is about two weeks ahead in comparison to the long-term average.” He continued: “The red grape varieties have benefited from this situation in particular and they are already deep in colour.”
John Fordyce, a producer from Mouchao in the Alto Alentejo in Portugal, said the harvest has been early, with volumes “some 30% below 2010”. He added that whites have high levels of natural acidity, good combination of flavour and structure, while reds “are showing great promise”.
Meanwhile vintage in both the Loire and at Dourthe, Château La Garde in Pessac-Léognan, arrived two weeks ahead of schedule.
Trade body Interloire said the warm spring and cool summer, meant “excellent levels of ripeness” across the Loire, while a recent spate of high temperatures and fierce storms has left the “winegrowers’ nerves in tatters”.
Story by Gemma McKenna
Courtesy of Harpers Wine and Spirit Trades Review