Grapes dried up like raisins several weeks before harvest, crushed grapes after hail and grapes eaten by thirsty wild boar. The extreme heat and dry climate this year may give Italian wine producers a reduction in grapes and wine of about 15-40 per cent.
I just drove home from Italy to Norway by car as a wine tourist. I visited and passed by several vineyards. Some had already started harvest, others still let their healty grapes hang on the vines for ripening, such as here in Mezzacorona, Trentino in Northern Italy.
But many places, I saw grapes struggling after an extraordinary dry and hot season.
Grapes and wine in Lazio
Alessandro Parmeggiani has a wine bar, Vineria Ventidue in Oslo, Norway. But he also has a little vineyard near Rome, in Tarquinia in Lazio.
When he returned to the vineyard in August after holiday in Norway, he felt like crying.
– Half of my grapes are eaten by animals, others are partly dried after the drougt, says Parmeggiani.
His vineyard is small and he has Sangiovese, Merlot og Vermentino grapes. In a good year he can make around 1500 bottles of wine. The wine from last year is still not bottled. His goal is to sell the wine at his wine bar in Oslo. With regards to the harvest this year, he is uncertain.
– Hungry wild boars looking for roots have dug up the ground. The olive trees are moaning for water, and their fruit production is low. It is sad to admit that there will be little wine and olive oil from my farm this season. For those who has this as an income, it is a crisis, says Parmeggiani. He adds that he is only a hobby producer trying to make something good.
Heat, drought and hail
Italy has had the hottest and driest season in over 60 years, according to the weather channels. Some places have experienced a new record. It has hardly rained during the winter, the spring nor the summer. When the rain first came, it had the opposite effect some places, such as at the vineyard Podere Orto in Trevinano in Lazio, making biodynamic wine.
Both the leaves and the grapes are damaged after a hailstorm in July.
– It hasn’t rained in three months. When it first came, it came as hail. 40 per cent of our grapes are affected, says Simona De Vecchis who is working hard to make wine with her husband. I don’t need to ask how they feel.
The unusual climate has also led to an early harvest this year. But some places there are no grapes to collect. They are either dried up or eaten by wild boar. Others are struggling with few or no grapes after a spring frost hit the vines in April, which we experienced at our vineyard in Acquapendente, Lazio in Italy.
Some of our grapes have also started to shrivel and I realize that we will have less grapes and wine this year. Fortunately, it has rained a couple of times the last month and it has come as rain, not hail, as it did a few kilometers away at the Podere Orto vineyard. I am lucky, because most of our grapes looks happy, still, such as in this picture.
Good year for grapes and wine
The Italian agricultural organization, Coldiretti recently reported that the wine-export of Italy seem to experience an increase of 5 per cent from 2016. This is good news for Italian wine producers. On the other hand, it is estimated that the weather will lead to a total decrease of 15-20 for this years grape harvest, while some places are even harder affected. Harvest has just begun and will endure untill the end of October. Despite all the struggling grapes, I experience that many Italian are optimitistic and say
Fewer grapes and less wine, but better quality