08/23/2021On August 23rd, the first grapes of the early-ripening Solaris variety were harvested in the Rheinhessen region of Germany after reaching almost 70 degrees Oechsle. Wine estates from the Pfalz region also confirmed that they had begun “new wine” production, as reported by the German Wine Institute (DWI).

 

However, the main harvest won’t start before mid-September as the ripeness of the grapes this year is a good two weeks behind the ten-year average and much closer to the level of the 1980s.2021 has not been an easy year

Overall, 2021 has been a challenging year for wine producers. Firstly, a cool and humid spring led to comparatively late budding which resulted in some late frost damage in Baden and Württemberg. Then the vines grew so fast in June, that the winemakers had trouble keeping up when binding them to the trellis. Fortunately, the somewhat late flowering of the vines led to a promising fruit set.

Another challenge was presented by the abundant rainfall, which was certainly welcome for replenishing the water reserves in the vineyard soils, yet was problematic for keeping the vines healthy. This is because the exceptionally humid weather created mildew infections, that result in losses to yield. The damage was noticeable in all winegrowing areas of Germany.

Vineyard damage in the Ahr Valley

The enormous amounts of water that surged down the Ahr River in July destroyed not only the cellars and wineries on the banks but also around ten percent of the 563 hectares of vineyards in the growing region. Nevertheless, local winemakers are confident that they will be able to bring in a good vintage in 2021 from the undamaged vineyards – with thanks to the solidarity from the wine industry.

The main harvest in the wine regions will probably begin around mid-September and in the Riesling-dominated regions, around the end of September. In this final phase of ripening and maturity, the weather is critical for determining the quality of the vintage. First and foremost, it should be as dry as possible and ideally turn into a long Indian summer. Then nothing can stand in the way of 2021 being a vintage of high quality.