EU: wine harvest set for 36-year low
Extreme weather, including heavy hailstorms, hard frosts and drought, has pushed the EU wine grape harvest to an historic low in 2017, the EU department for Agriculture and Rural Development has revealed.
As a result of the adverse climatic conditions experienced across Europe this year, the EU Commission states that “most of the wine-growing regions in Europe are expecting a very low harvest in 2017”.
Spain predicts volumes to be 16% lower compared to 2016 and in France and Italy, winemakers are expecting a 17% and 21% reduction respectively. The report stresses that these figures are an average, with some regions believed to have an even greater reduction than the national average, while others have escaped relatively unscathed.
Castilla-la-Mancha in Spain has been particularly affected, predicting a fall of 19% (compared to the national average of 16%) while Sicily is predicting volumes to decline by over a third (35%) compared to the national average of 21%.
On the other hand, some countries have reported an increase in volume this year. Portugal, which has experienced drought conditions in some regions this year, is predicting a 10% increase from last year, while Austria, which also suffered frost damage last year, is expecting a 23% in 2017. Romania, however, is reporting the greatest increase with a prediction of 60% growth and a return to the level recorded in 2013. This equates to a 35% increase “compared to the five-year average production”.
Bruno Prats of Prats + Symington recently told the drinks business that this year’s harvest in the Douro was one of the earliest on record and that picking was started early as the drought was starting to have a “bad affect” on the vines.
The total volume across the whole of the EU for the 2017-2018 harvest is estimated to reach 145 million hectolitres, a reduction of -14% (22 million hectolitres) on the level recorded last year and 5.5 million hectolitres less than in 2012-2013, the previous, at least in recent times, record low harvest.
The report stresses that “these initial estimates of harvest size could change as the situation becomes clearer following the actual harvest”. Member states must provide their final figures to the European Commission by 15 March 2018.