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Concha y Toro brings harvest forward to tackle one of most challenging harvests yet

Published:  14 May, 2020

Concha y Toro (CyT) has weathered two kinds of storms in order to get through the first of the decade’s grape crush. The first is the weather. The other, of course, is Covid-19.

The pandemic hit the southern hemisphere right in the middle of harvest time, putting further pressure on what was already a “challenging” vintage weather-wise.

According to CyT, high temperatures and lack of rainfall led the Chilean giant’s technical teams to bring forward the start of the harvest by two weeks on average – a decision that is in keeping with other producers in the country.

As such, the 2020 vintage is expected to predominantly result in “fresher wines”, the company said.

In the north, the vineyards close to the coast in the Limarí Valley avoided much of the searing heat that affected Chile’s more southerly regions, with dry weather, but with “enough water accumulated in the reservoir to enable us to get through the season successfully,” said Cristián Carrión, agricultural assistant manager for the area.

Central and southern regions meanwhile saw consistently high temperatures and heat waves.

The average daily maximum temperature in Santiago was 24.4°C in 2019, the hottest year since 1950, while the average daily maximum temperature in the Curicó Valley of 22.5°C was the highest since 1959 (Chilean Meteorological Department).

There was also a rainfall deficit in large parts of Chile during 2019.

Moderate drought affected almost all of the country and resulted in extreme conditions between the Casablanca and Maule valleys.

Rainfall was between 50% to 80% lower than in a normal year in several regions, making 2010-2019 the driest decade in Chile’s history, and reducing reservoir backups.

The result of these climate challenges, along with Covid-19 arriving just before harvest, meant 2019/20 has been one of the most challenging in CyT’s history.

“We have completed a complex harvest with good results thanks to the great determination and attitude of our teams, taking all precautions and ensuring the health of employees. I’m sure that we will learn a lot of lessons from this, from both a technical and human perspective”, said CyT’s technical director, Marcelo Papa.

Top photo shows the Peumo vineyard in the Cachapoal Valley