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Germany sees earliest grape harvests on record

Published:  22 August, 2018

Germany has seen its earliest grape harvests on record this year due to warm weather and early flowering.

Varieties such as Müller Thurgau and Frühburgunder are expected to start at the end of August.

Even later ripening varieties such as Riesling and Spätburgunder are expected to be ready for picking in mid-September, rather than the beginning of October.

The 6 August has already marked the start of the harvest for ‘Federweisser’, a partially fermented, yeasty wine, in Lörzweiler, Rheinhessen.

Picking for Federweisser has began in the Pfalz and Baden, whilst harvesting will get underway in some areas destined for the production of Sekt.

According to Wines of Germany, the UK marketing arm of the Deutsches Weininstitut, this is the earliest harvest date on record.

The early harvest has been due to the warmest April since records began, which led to an especially early flowering, it revealed.

The ripening was further accelerated by the very sunny summer, resulting in vine development, which is currently some three weeks ahead of the long-term average.

The organisation said that despite the drought, which persisted for eight weeks, the older vines, which have deeper roots, are still in good state of health. However, irrigation has been necessary especially for wines on shallow soils and in young vineyards, it said.

However, it added that a prolonged water shortage could diminish these prospects in the same way as a long period of rain would at the end of August or in September.

“Winegrowers are therefore hoping for widespread, abundant summer rain as soon as possible both on the other hand for dry late summer weather at the time of the main harvest,” it said.

Germany is not the only area to see an early harvest. The champagne harvest for 2018 started early on 21 August following an exceptional wine growing year and good weather.