Italy’s harvest down by 30% in some regions

Some regions in Italy are expected to see grape yields fall by up to 30%, following the “bizarre” weather this year, Italy’s national farming association has warned.

Franciacorta

Italian farmers association Coldiretti reported that yields could be around 10-15% lower than 2016 overall, with regions such as Franciacorta falling by as much as 30% due to the late spring frosts, while droughts in Chianti and other denominations in Tuscany over the summer have helped cause volumes to fall by around 20-30%, it said.

It blamed the “bizarre” weather which had included a dry and mild winter prompting early vine shoots that were then hit by late-frost damage, followed by “persistent drought and localised hailstorms”. However, early summer rain followed by heat in July had boosted residual sugar levels in the grapes and prompted an earlier harvest, it said, with Sicily starting the harvest nearly three weeks’ early and Franciacorta in the north of the country starting ten days earlier than in 2016.

“Much will depend on the months of August and September, but the current conditions hope for a vintage of good quality, especially for vineyards that have undergone water shortages or where farmers have succeeded in Rescue irrigation,” a statement from the organisation said.

However, vice president of the Franciacorta Consorzio Silvano Brescianini said it was too early to draw any conclusions on volume and quality of yields from the sparkling region.

“We will have a more accurate idea of how this year shapes up once picking is over and we know exactly how much we’ve harvested,” he said.

The Conzorzio said there were “profound” differences in the ripening of grapes in different locations, due to the cold weather in the Spring, which caused uneven recovery of the vines. A lot would depend on the measures taken by each vineyard and the extent of the damage sustained, it said, but affected vineyards were likely to be facing a lower yield.

However, Brescianini noted that due to the higher daytime temperatures in May and June and variable rainy weather followed by heat in July boosted grape ripening, so plots unaffected by the Spring frosts were likely to see a higher quality harvest and no threat from fungal disease, downy or powdery mildew.

Speaking to db at a lunch in April, the vice president of the Franciacorta Consorzio Silvano Brescianini, said the success of Prosecco had “paved the way” for Franciacorta in the UK by creating an interest in sparkling wines outside of Champagne.

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