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Wet summer dampens Italian harvest

Italian wine authorities have warned of a likely -15% volume shortfall this year after exceptionally high July rainfall caused problems with disease.

A forecast released at the end of last week by the Unione Italiana Vini (UIV) and Istituto di Servizi per il Mercato Agricolo Alimentare (ISMEA) predicted a total harvest of 40.9 million hectoliters for 2014, a significant drop on the 48.2m recorded last year.

The decline, which is based on a national survey carried out by the two bodies between the end of August and first week of September, has been driven by the country’s southern regions in particular. However the far north of Italy was also affected as the nation experienced 73% higher than average rainfall during July.

Sicily and Puglia are expected to see harvests shrink by -27% and -25% respectively, while in the north Piedmont is likely to be -8% down, with the Veneto expecting a -17% slide.

The picture appears to be rather more positive in the centre of Italy, with Tuscany forecast to see a 3% volume increase, Umbria a 10% increase and Marche a 7% increase.

Domenico Zonin, president of the UIV, described 2014 as “a difficult, complicated harvest, which in many regions still leaves room for an uncertainty not seen for a long time.”

Outlining the main problems faced by producers, he pointed to “numerous attacks of pathogens, especially downy mildew and botrytis, fostered by unstable weather.” Nevertheless, continued Zonin, “In spite of everything, the majority of growers showed they were prepared and action has been taken promptly.”

Even so, he predicted that the end result would be “poor in quantity” and “with a low sugar content”, but insisted that any qualitative judgement would need to wait until more a thorough evaluation had been carried out in the cellar.

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