Reports pouring in from around Germany indicate that this year’s wine harvest is coming to an unusually rapid and early end. The next few days are expected to see many estates harvest their top quality berries in late-ripening varieties such as Riesling. In conversations with the German Wine Institute (DWI), producers have indicated overall satisfaction with the quality of the harvested fruit.
The year began with an extremely early flowering, leading to significantly accelerated development of the vegetation. Despite the rapid harvest, ripeness levels for the collected fruit appear to be strong, suggesting a high-quality vintage.
The latest estimates see this year’s harvest yielding volumes slightly above the well-established annual national average of 9.2 million hectoliters of must. If those forecasts prove true, Germany’s winemakers will be able to both serve normal market demand and refresh inventories after the relatively small 2013 vintage.
In the DWI’s view, the rapid pace of the harvest was necessitated by a variety of difficult external factors that at times required rigorous, careful selection and manual harvesting in the vineyards. This included the first German sighting of the Drosophila suzukii, a fruit crop pest, leading to a highly accelerated red wine harvest in some regions. White wine varieties fortunately were unaffected by this new invader.
The weather conditions in September and October were also major factors, with periods of heavy rain and moist, warm temperatures demanding the lots of attention in the vineyards. Advance expenditures in higher efficiency harvesting and processing tools were especially valuable this year. A number of estates have made these investments in recent years in response to climate change and the extreme weather that comes with it. In an often tough year, the new equipment allowed many winegrowers to react quickly and head off problems.