2003 German Wine Vintage: Potentially the Best Ever!

August 20, 2003

MAINZ, Germany – Although the main grape harvest in Germany is still weeks away, the exceptional record-setting long, hot summer in Germany has helped to create the earliest wine harvest on record and a vintage that holds promise to rival the best ever.

Well before the record hot summer set in, the budding and flowering on the grape vines – almost everywhere in Germany – were weeks ahead of schedule suggesting many to believe the 2003 would be an outstanding vintage.

And the ripeness levels of the grapes tracked throughout an exceptionally long, hot summer continued to hold great promise – especially for the red wine varieties that benefited from the extra sunlight and warm temperatures.

Degrees Oechsle in Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) have already exceeded 60 degrees (approximately 15 Brix on the North American scale) and there is more ripening room left in the coming weeks. Considering the fact that one-third of Germany’s vineyards are now planted in red wine varietals, many believe this vintage could go a long way to help meet the growing consumer demand for German red wines.

The early ripening also bodes well for premium quality rarities such as Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenausle wines. Since the acid structure in the grapes is already well balanced, growers are able to determine harvesting based on optimal ripeness levels.

Part of many producers’ optimism for a great vintage and confidence that the long hot and very dry summer will not adversely affect mature vines, is the belief that excessive rains in previous years in many parts of Germany have provided the vines and soil with some moisture reserve. Producers are hopeful that some late summer rain will arrive in time before the vines get too water stressed.

The current mid-range weather forecast in Germany currently calls for sunny days and cooler temperatures at night – the perfect situation at this time for the vines and the wines.

The 2003 harvest is expected to begin in early September with the earliest ripening Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner and Dornfelder grape varieties.

Hopes are high that after the outstanding 2001 and 2002 vintages, another record-breaking vintage will be produced in Germany.