2005

2005 Wine Harvest in Germany – Quality up; Volume down.

November 17, 2005

MAINZ, Germany – The current mood in Germany’s wine estates and cooperatives is one of great satisfaction – not least because the 2005 vintage is already acclaimed as being exceptionally good.

“This year is unique: seldom has there been such unanimous praise from all 13 wine-growing regions about the quality of the grape crop,” reports Armin Göring, managing director of the German Wine Institute in Mainz. “The majority of must weights are of Prädikat wine quality and some come very close to those of vintage 2003.”

Göring attributes this positive outcome to the extraordinarily sunny year. According to the German Weather Service, the collective number of sun hours recorded from March through October exceeded the long-term average for an entire year. This enabled the grapes to ripen about two weeks ahead of schedule. Precipitation during the harvest in September helped speed up the harvest so that the grapes could be gathered while still healthy. Franconian wine-growers claim that it was the shortest harvest in history.

Below-average Yields

At the beginning of the harvest, the average volume of the crop was overestimated. Ultimately, the quantity of must pressed from the grapes was surprisingly small and in general, growers harvested very selectively. Göring estimates that the 2005 vintage will be about 9 million hectoliters. This is nearly ten percent less than the previous year and some six percent below the ten-year average of 9.6 million hl. Since cellar stocks are virtually depleted, this prognosis is not particularly promising for many growers. Water supplies during the growing season were generally better in Baden and Württemberg than in the more northerly regions. As such, yields in the south are approximately the same as last year.

Ahr

Growers in the Ahr Valley profited from the sunny year. The grapes developed exceptionally well and remained quite healthy. In August, however, hail reduced the crop by about 40% in vineyards between Bad Neuenahr and Heimersheim. Sunny periods in September and October enabled growers to harvest very ripe grapes. Volume is estimated at 39,000 hl.

Baden

Thanks to good water supplies, the quantity and very good quality of the crop in Baden are more or less comparable with 2004. Although Riesling developed to everyone’s satisfaction this year, ca. 20% less Rivaner was harvested. Careful timing was essential for growers to harvest an optimal crop of Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) and Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). Oechsle levels and the quality of the grapes increased daily beneath sunny autumn skies. Volume is estimated at ca. 1.3 million hl.

Franken

At the end of the harvest, Andreas Oestemer, president of the Franconian Wine-growers’ Association, summed up the vintage as being “just what we wanted.” Although sunshine was relatively rare in June and July in Franken, the warmest September ever recorded made up for the deficit and overall, quality was quite good. Considerable rainfall during the harvest dampened hopes for a “super vintage.” Harvesting began early and had to be completed within three weeks – in record time, or according to growers, the shortest harvest in history. Volume is estimated at 400,000 hl.

Hessische Bergstrasse

Consumers can look forward to refreshing, full-bodied Riesling and powerful red wines from vintage 2005 in the Hessische Bergstrasse. The grapes benefited from sunny weather during a warm, dry October and must weights increased day by day. Growers are satisfied with a volume estimated at 31,000 hl.

Mittelrhein

Hail in August dashed the hopes of some growers in the Mittelrhein. In all, 85 hectares (210 acres) – equal to 20% of the region’s vineyard area – were affected; some areas were totally ruined. This notwithstanding, the grapes, particularly Riesling in steep sites, benefited from the good climatic conditions of this year’s weather. Volume is estimated at ca. 30,000 hl.

Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

The harvest on the Mosel began on 10 October – earlier than usual – and compared with past years, was also completed quite early. Weather conditions were optimal for Riesling. There will be excellent dry wines as well as numerous lusciously sweet specialties from vintage 2005. On an average, must weights were 10 degrees higher and acidity somewhat lower than in 2004. Qualities were high and yields were low. Volume is estimated at 825,000 hl – ten percent less than last year.

Nahe

The harvest of early-ripening varieties, such as Rivaner, Bacchus, Portugieser, Regent or Dornfelder, was bountiful in the Nahe. Later-ripening varieties (e.g. Riesling, Spätburgunder [Pinot Noir]) yielded considerably less, since increasingly damp weather made it necessary for growers to harvest very selectively. The quality and quantity of the harvest varied from vineyard to vineyard. Volume is estimated at 300,000 hl.

Pfalz

Compared with other wine-growing regions, some portions of the Pfalz suffered from a water deficit. Particularly in the Mittelhaardt (northern district), growers had to irrigate their vineyards in August. Nevertheless, must weights and qualities ranged from above average to optimal. Depending on vineyard site, yields were up to 25% lower than last year. Volume is estimated at 2.1 million hl.

Rheingau

Grapes began to ripen in the Rheingau some two weeks earlier than usual, and thus, the harvest began earlier, too. Many estates harvested lusciously sweet top growths in considerable quantities. Yields averaged less than 70 hl/ha – considerably lower than the long-term average – and overall, ca. 20% lower than in 2004. Volume is estimated at ca. 215,000 hl.

Rheinhessen

The red wines of vintage 2005 are similar to top growths of 2003: deep in color, powerful; the white wines are reminiscent of the fruity, refreshing style of 2004. Thanks to efficient harvesting methods and the number of operations able to quickly process large quantities, growers were able to delay harvesting until the optimal moment. In years past, quite a number of growers left some grapes on the vine hoping for an Eiswein harvest – not so this year. The size of the crop in Germany’s largest wine-growing region was considerably lower than in 2004. Volume is estimated at 2.5 million hl.

Saale-Unstrut

The growers in the Saale and Unstrut valleys were the only ones who were able to harvest more this year than last. With quality levels of up to 100 degrees Oechsle, the growers are quite satisfied. Volume is estimated at 29,000 hl, or ten percent more than in 2004.

Sachsen

In Germany’s smallest wine-growing region growers are optimistic about the excellent quality of the 2005 vintage. Particularly the late-ripening varieties, such as Traminer and Riesling, benefited from the sunny autumn weather. Rainfall in September made it necessary to harvest grapes very selectively. Volume is estimated at ca. 18,000 hl.

Württemberg

The quality of the grape harvest in Württemberg was quite good. In terms of quantity and quality, the 2005 vintage lies somewhere between 2003 and 2004. Growers expect that their wines will show distinctive regional and varietal character. Although the overall volume harvested was a bit less than expected, it is well-suited to current market conditions. Volume is estimated at 1,2 million hl.

Harvest estimate Germany 2005

Regione

Harvest 2005 (in hl)

+/- 2005/2004

+/- longtime mean

Ahr

39.000

– 12%

– 3%

Baden

1.325.000

– 5%

+ 7%

Franken

400.000

– 15%

– 19%

Hessische Bergstraße

31.000

– 21%

– 9%

Mittelrhein

30.000

– 11%

– 26%

Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

825.000

– 16%

– 28%

Nahe

300.000

– 21%

– 16%

Pfalz

2.085.000

– 15%

– 11%

Rheinhessen

2.500.000

  8%

+/- 0

Rheingau

215.000

– 23%

– 13%

Saale-Unstrut

29.000

– 22%

+ 8%

Sachsen

18.000

 + 4%

+ 14%

Württemberg

1.200.000

– 7%

+ 3%

Bundesgebiet

8.997.000

– 11 %

– 7%

Quelle: Deutscher Weinbauverband

 

Stand: 15. November 2005