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Wine News

Rising temperatures force early harvests in Europe

Whether it’s the result of climate change or just the vagaries of nature, the weather has heralded an early harvest in parts of Europe. In France, many regions have been picking their grapes before they normally would. Champagne, for instance, has started one of its earliest ever following a mild winter and uncharacteristically warm spring. And Alsace – which is usually one of the country’s last regions to collect its harvest – has already been taking grapes from the vines.

It’s been the same scenario, too, in the south, with Roussillon getting the ball rolling back in the middle of August. Even such a prestigious chateau as Petrus has had to flip its vineyard calendar over to the harvest page a couple of weeks prematurely.

In Italy a warm winter followed by heatwaves during both spring and summer have been causing the grapes to ripen a month before normal. In fact, soaring temperatures broke records in June and July over much of southeast Europe, from Spain to Greece. The downside – or upside if you consider Europe’s wine lake – is that the vintage is expected to be smaller.

France, in particular, is talking of one of the smallest harvests in 20 years, according to the national winegrowers’ office. A string of summer storms and plant diseases, such as mildew, brought on by the wet weather there are to blame. Predications are for a seven per cent drop in production compared to last year. Italy’s vintage could show an even greater fall, if early predictions turn out to be correct. Only countries in central Europe look likely to see an increase in grape volumes.