The first bunches in the Rhône Valley were picked on Monday this week, making for what might be the earliest harvest on record for the region.
Levels of grape ripeness prompted the start of the harvest, beginning with the white AOPs of the southern Rhône Valley, with a forecasted date of 4 September for the northern vineyards – two weeks earlier than the harvest in 2016.
The area has reportedly experienced high temperatures in the last few weeks, with Vignobles de la Valée du Rhône reporting good overall health of this year’s crop.
The recent high temperatures follow a warmer-than-usual February and March that resulted in early bud break, although later frost and hail caused some damage to the vineyards in the south. In the north, flowering was delayed owing to cold winds early on, but from May the area has experienced much higher temperature, as well as significant rainfall and some storms.
‘We had been hoping for rain in July, but it didn’t happen,’ commented Françoise Dijon, manager of the Vineyard Observer. ‘Nevertheless, our latest findings show that the quality of the harvest is very promising, with plenty of colour and a good ratio of sugar to acidity.’
Vignobles de la Valée du Rhône confirmed that while there had been some damage, and yields would not be excessive this year, the region was ‘relatively unscathed compared to the rest of France.’