German winemakers experience earliest grape harvest on record

Imbibe Editorial

Imbibe Editorial

22 August 2018

As heatwavemageddon continues to roll across Europe, Germany is experiencing its earliest grape harvest on record.

The warmest April since records began followed by a very sunny summer has resulted in accelerated ripening and vine development that’s around three weeks ahead of average.

The harvest for Federweisser, a partially fermented yeast wine, began on 6 August in Lörzweiler, Rheinhessen. This was followed by pickings for the wine in Pfalz and Baden.

The harvest for varieties such as Müller-Thurgau or Frühburgunder will begin nationwide at the end of the month. This also applies to the most northerly German wine region Saale-Unstrut for the first time.

Riesling, Spätburgunder and other later ripening varieties are expected to be ready to pick by mid September, compared to the beginning of October, which is the standard.

Eight weeks of persistent drought has also troubled some vineyards. While older vines with deeper roots remain in good health, irrigation has been necessary, particularly for wines on shallow soils and young vineyards.

‘The size of the crop as well as the excellent state of maturity and health of the grapes provide good indication for both the yield and quality of the vintage,’ said Wines of Germany. ‘However, a prolonged water shortage could diminish these prospects in the same way as a long period of rain would at the end of August or in September.

‘Winegrowers are therefore hoping for widespread, abundant summer rain as soon as possible, but on the other hand for dry late-summer weather at the time of the main harvest.’

The ongoing heatwave in Europe meant that Champagne began its harvest yesterday, marking the fifth harvest to take place in the region in August in the last 15 years.

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