THE effects of successive heatwaves and drought are threatening this year’s wine harvest across Spain.
An exceptionally hot and dry summer has left grapes withering on the vines with viticulturists choosing to bring the harvest forward by at least a month.
The vendemia, or grape collection, usually takes place during the month of September but many wine makers have decided to start picking in August to save what they can of the harvest.
It means grape pickers will have to work during the heat of the summer to bring in a harvest expected to be down by an average of between 15% and 25% depending on wine-growing region in Spain.
In Madrid, some wine producers have already started picking.
“We grow the albillo real (grape variety), which is a very traditional variety, and also (harvested) early. Before, it was harvested in the third week of August, but this year we have started picking it already,” Isabel Galindo, from a vineyard in San Martín de Valdeiglesias, told EuropaPress.
As they are harvested earlier, grapes will be smaller but some winemakers believe this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“We will have fewer grapes to pick but it will have a positive effect on the markets because the wine will be better positioned and at a good price,” says Francisco Martínez Arroyo, the regional Minister for Agriculture in Castilla-La Mancha, where half of Spain’s wine is produced.
Some predict that the impact of this year’s hot dry summer will be felt more on next year’s harvest.
Andrés Pérez, from Asaja Madrid explained that when the grapes ripen before their time it ‘disturbs the natural cycle of the vine and this could affect next year’s production’.
Spain’s olive groves are also feeling the effects of a difficult summer with warnings that the harvest will be significantly reduced pushing up prices of olive oil.
The effects of extreme weather are being felt right across Spain’s agricultural sector.
Luis Planas, the agricultural minister has estimated that Spain’s overall production of grain crops like corn, wheat and barley, could fall as much as 13% this year.
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