This summer's heat waves will reduce the wine harvest

Vine harvest in Castilla-La Mancha. / DO Valdepenas

In Castilla-La Mancha, which produces half of the country's wine, a decrease of close to 15 percent is estimated

JML Toledo

The successive heat waves that we are experiencing this summer are also having their effects on crops. This is the case of the vineyard. With a view to the next harvest, which will be widespread in a few weeks in all the wine regions of Spain, the agricultural organizations calculate that the grape harvest will be reduced by between 15 and 20 percent on average, reaching 25 percent in some areas. hundred. A drop in production that will also be influenced by the dry autumn of 2021 and the warm spring of 2022.

Thus, this year's harvest will be lower than the average of recent years, which has been around 42 million hectoliters. Of this amount, half is produced in Castilla-La Mancha, which is the largest wine region in Europe. "We will have a smaller harvest but this will have a positive effect on the markets because the wine will be able to sell better and at a good price," says the Councilor for Agriculture of this community, Francisco Martínez Arroyo.

From the largest denomination of origin in this region, that of La Mancha, its manager, Ángel Ortega, explains that "despite the fact that we hoped that this campaign we could exceed the average of other years in terms of quantity, it is not going to be like that and, in addition, we will have to advance the harvest several weeks due to the heat». One of the large wineries covered by this appellation of origin, that of the Virgen de las Viñas cooperative in Tomelloso (Ciudad Real), anticipates that the reduction in the harvest will mainly affect the red varieties. "What is really important here is to collect the product in an optimal state of maturation," says its president, Rafael Torres.

water stress

According to the agrarian organization ASAJA, the reduction of the harvest can reach 30 percent in some regions, being that of Campo de Montiel, in Ciudad Real, one of the most affected due to its clay soil, which absorbs more heat, which prevents that the leaves of the vines can protect the grapes from the sun's rays. The heat waves "have advanced the phenological cycle of the vine, with water stress in the vine more typical of the heat wave, which could alter the rate of grape ripening with a decrease in harvest production," they indicate. from the DO La Mancha.

As for prices, the drop in production will favor a slight increase and, for the moment, in the first half of the year the sale of wines has not only not suffered but has increased. In the case of the DO La Mancha, it has grown by 19 percent. If these heat waves are repeated in successive years, experts point out that crops end up adapting. This is what Enrique Sánchez, professor of Earth Physics at the University of Castilla-La Mancha, affirms for whom «agriculture has already undergone a very long period of adaptation to extreme temperatures and climatic phenomena and the vineyard is an example of how Crops have to adapt to the new circumstances if they want to survive. "If these changes occur gradually, it is easier for them to achieve it," says this expert.

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