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Small harvest in Sicily promises high-quality wine

Published:  25 September, 2019

The 2019 grape harvest in Sicily is down by as much as 30% on average when measured against typical recent volumes, according to the initial report from the Consortium for the Protection of Sicilia DOC Wines.

Production is expected to be in the region of 4.3 to 4.6 million hectolitres, comparable to the 2018 harvest, which produced 4.4 million hectolitres. The average for recent years is around 5 million hectolitres.

However, after six weeks of harvesting the growers are confident of an excellent vintage. The first vines to be picked have been white varieties, including Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Grillo and Lucido. All are reported to bear high-quality fragrant grapes.

The harvest was delayed this year until August 5, ten days later than 2018, thanks to a cold wet spring. It is expected to end in October.

Filippo Paladino, vice-president of the Consortium, said: "The harvest that began with the harvesting of Pinot Grigio showed a trend of 40% less quantity than in 2018. The other grape varieties harvested, Viognier and Merlot, saw an average reduction of 30%-to-35%.

“We can already say that the ten-day delay with which the harvest began was positive in some respects: the plants were able to accumulate aromatic substances and we expect very fragrant wines.

Everything makes us think that the final balance will be in line with what we are currently seeing.”

The wine sector in Sicily is worth some €550 million and is growing rapidly. Sales were up 6% in 2018.

Established in 2011, the Sicilian DOC is an umbrella organisation for the 24 DOC on the island. It represents some 7,500 winegrowers with over 20,000 ha of land under vine.