Extreme heat forces the harvest to be brought forward in Spain

The harvest of 2022 will be premature. The episodes of high temperatures in recent months have disrupted the calendar of the wineries, which are being forced to bring forward the grape harvest campaign to make wine. The latest waves of heat have made the fruit ripen earlier than other years and some of its varieties, depending on the area, are ready for harvest. For this same reason, production is also expected to go down. The lack of water means that the volume harvested is considerably less. Within the sector there is talk that the plants are suffering from water stress and they take it for granted that if they are exposed to more than 35 degrees, something that this summer has become common in many farms, the normal development of the plant will be affected . Another of the sequels associated with this picture is that the grape will be smaller. The winegrowers have assured that today the product is very healthy, although they prefer to wait for the final stretch of the campaign to assess its quality, since in the coming weeks, and depending on the rainfall pattern and the oscillations it experiences the thermometer, this can vary. Some believe that a smaller harvest and excellent quality can lead to an upward trend in prices. Up to two weeks before In the Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin, one of the wine-producing areas par excellence, some wineries have already started the harvest campaign on Wednesday, two weeks in advance. In eastern Rioja, Tempranillo and Tempranillo Blanco were already in an optimal state for harvesting. The Regulatory Council notified a few days ago in a statement that, for the moment, the weight of the berry was lower than last year in all varieties and that less compact clusters were observed. The same day that Rioja began the work of harvesting the fruit, the 30 Aragonese wineries of the Somontano Denomination of Origin (DO) also began, in their case a week earlier than usual. The president of his Regulatory Council, Francisco José Berroy, acknowledges to ABC that "this year has been atypical." In this DO, a "certain decrease in the rainfed vineyard" is expected, although Berroy assures that the grapes are holding up. "But everything has a limit," he insists. "It has to rain because the reservoirs are in a hurry and we need water." In Somontano they expect production to remain within the same standards as in the last ten years (17.5 million kilos of grapes). A similar situation occurs in the twelve Catalan denominations of origin and in its almost 300 wineries. Many are advancing the work between seven and ten days. In some areas, such as Penedés (Barcelona), the harvest began at the end of July with a grape that is "healthy and of quality", according to industry sources. Related News Standard gastronomy No The best red wines for the summer months ABC Although barrel aging is still the queen, there are more and more alternative methods, such as amphorae, jars, foudres and concrete «This year we are very advanced. These heats are making us run a lot, ”said a viticulturist from the DO Ampurdán (Gerona) ironically this week at the start of the campaign, which has advanced two weeks. The Grenache, smaller than other grapes, is already at the optimum point of ripening. The lack of water in the area has not affected the quality, they comment. It is foreseeable that the advancement of the works will affect production. The Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda of the Generalitat de Catalunya, which monitors the annual harvest of wine growers in the region, calculates that it will only fall by 15% if the rains in August are more or less normal. The season was already forecast to be complicated months ago due to the surprisingly hot weather of the last few weeks. The climatic conditions have forced the professionals of the Catalan denominations of origin to change their usual practices, carrying out tilling tasks more often to take better advantage of the seasoning and ensure that the vines have a good balance between sugars and acids in the grape. The heat has also forced some farms to be fenced off due to the threat of thirsty wild boars, which have found an improvised watering hole in their fields due to the drought. In Marco de Jerez (Andalusia), the production area of ​​the famous Cadiz fortified wine, they have also started the campaign ahead of time and in their case with a record, since since records have existed they have never started so soon. The exceptional meteorological circumstances have meant that the minimum graduation required by the Regulatory Council for Sherry Wine and Brandy has been achieved ahead of time, but it has given rise to a "great inequality in terms of maturity according to payments, and even within the same vineyard", explained a producer. Changes in insurance The situation has led to requests to include heat stroke among the main risks in wine grape insurance. This is what the Agrarian Association of Young Farmers (Asaja) claims, which recalls that damage due to frost, wilting, hail or exceptional risks such as floods or fires are covered, but until now the adversities due to heat waves and coverage had not been specified. corresponding. They add that a formula must be found to identify these effects and to demonstrate that a farm can be damaged by high temperatures.

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