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Spain's vintage 2022: Challenges across the board

Published:  11 January, 2023

Wines from Spain has released its annual harvest report for the 2022 vintage in Spain.

According to the report, “2022 will be remembered for an exceptionally long, hot summer and very dry conditions which resulted in a challenging growing season right up to the all-important decision making over picking times. It was a most unusual year in many respects including the very early harvest dates.”

Like much of western Europe, last year's growing season in Spain was characterised by prolonged periods of heat and drought, with record-breaking early harvests taking place in many regions.

The report states: “The pattern for annual rainfall was generally significantly lower than average though some areas fared better than others over the winter and spring period making them better placed for what was to follow.

“The spring period, which is always an important period for establishing the yield of the forthcoming harvest, was unusually short but largely unproblematic. Indeed after favourable weather for bud break vine development was soon faster than the ideal pace for many growers. Weather more typical of a Spanish summer arrived early, in May, marking the start of five months of relentless hot, dry conditions.”

In addition, Galicia, Navarra and Catalonia were all impacted by forest fires. As the season progressed, many growers undertook intense work in the vineyard – good canopy management was important to protect vines from higher than average summer temperatures, especially for early-ripening whites and more sensitive varieties.

“The impact of the extreme weather varied according to a number of factors. Regions with a coastal influence – notably an Atlantic influence – and vineyards at higher altitudes benefitted from fresher temperatures, especially Rioja Alta, Ribera del Duero and areas of Aragón,” the report noted.

“Some areas had the advantage of irrigation, and soil type was another key factor – in such a hot year the vines planted in the most suitable areas generally coped better as well as more established vineyards featuring older vines with deep root systems.”

Nevertheless, harvest dates were around two weeks earlier than a typical year, with growers keenly watching acidity levels for both white and red varieties. But it was also a question of patiently waiting for complete ripeness.

According to the Wines from Spain, “later-ripening white varieties, including Albariño and Verdejo, and red varieties benefitted from the early autumn rains and lower temperatures. Many of Spain’s best known indigenous varieties performed well this year, albeit with slightly lower acidity levels.”

There is also reportedly a lot of excitement surrounding the quality of Spanish Garnacha produced in 2022. “Everything came right for this variety from mild spring conditions, which favoured a good fruit set, and a long ripening period, which enabled this Mediterranean variety to thrive together with its resistance to drought.”

Finally, the total yield for 2022 is predicted to be approximately the same as 2021, forecast at 39.5-40 million hectolitres (Spanish Market Observatory figures)