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Argentina begins harvest early, with estimates for lowest yield since 1960

A warm summer and low yields has prompted most of Argentina’s wine regions into an early harvest with picking already underway — including Malbec in some regions.

Although quality so far looks good, the National Viticulture Institute is already estimating that this will be the worst harvest in volume since records began in 1960. It estimates a drop of 21% compared to last year’s vintage, which was already a smaller harvest than usual. Mendoza is the worst affected, with an estimated 23% less than last year.

Severe frosts impacted several parts of the country in the late spring, with the worst in early November last year, which prompted the declaration of an agricultural state of emergency. Late frosts were followed by several hail storms, compounding damage to the vineyards.

Another cold front earlier this week plummeted temperatures again, affecting some regions of the Uco Valley “This is definitely an unusual vintage with so many different and difficult climatic events,” confirms Juan Pablo Murgia, winemaker at Bodega Argento and Otronia. “On top of the frosts and lower yields we have also had some hydric stress and hot spells. Although yields are low this year, fortunately it does look like we have good quality — which often happens with the low yielding years.”

“In general it is an earlier harvest, but how early depends on the region,” adds Murgia. “In Agrelo in Lujan de Cuyo, for instance, we’ve already started harvesting our reds — 10 days earlier than normal.”

Amanda Barnes is the drinks business’ regular South America correspondent and author of The South America Wine Guide .

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