Spanish winemakers assess frost damage

19th May, 2017 by Natalie Wang

Severe frosts have wreaked havoc on many vineyards in northern Spain including Rioja, Bierzo, Galicia and Ribera del Duero winemakers have revealed to dbHK at a tasting this week, following earlier reports of frost damages in Champagne and Bordeaux.

(Photo source: Spanish Wine Lovers)

Speaking to dbHK at Hong Kong importer Continental Wines’ annual portfolio tasting on Thursday, two Spanish wineries – Valdesil, one of the biggest Godello producers in Galicia, and Losada from Bierzo, said severe frosts in late April and early May have left many vineyards with widespread damages.

“In Bierzo and the upper part of Rioja Alta, they are pretty much affected, and nearby Navarra is not really affected,” says Victor Quinson of Losada winery. “It happened only two weeks ago, a very late frost”.

Frost damaged about 30-40% of the vines at his vineyards in Bierzo, he admitted, not the most severally affected compared with vineyards at slightly higher altitudes in Bierzo he added. Despite this year’s looming production cut, the vintner stated that prices for his wines, all made from indigenous Mencía grape, will not increase.

According to Bierzo’s Regulatory Board, initial estimates show that between 70-80% of the vineyards have been damaged, and the region has been declared a “disaster” zone.

Further to the west in Galicia (except Rías Baixas), vineyards also suffered to various degrees. It’s estimated that over 70% of the vineyards were hit with €72 million of damage in Galicia, according to a local English report by The Olive Press.

“Last month was really hot. Vines start to grow, and we had the buds,” Rocio Orbea de Arriba, sales manager of Valdesil in Galicia’s Valdeorras, tells dbHK.” Then we lost four hectares but have 20 hectares in the area.”

Adding to the ordeal, the winery also suffered hail last week, she revealed. “So this year it’s really tough. We will have to wait and see, maybe some of the vines can survive.”

Speaking of Rioja, in what she calls “the worst region hit by frost in the past 20 years”, Rioja Alta and Rioja Alvarez, were particularly affected, she said.

In Ribera Del Duero, temperatures plunged to -5°C for five hours on 27 April, destroying vineyard crops throughout the area.

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