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Ribera harvest battles ‘pronounced and changing climate’

Published:  06 December, 2023

Ribera del Duero is celebrating a bigger than expected harvest, with this year’s crop up by 12% and the grapes achieving optimal levels of ripeness despite being one of the ‘most complex harvests to date’.

Harvest season in the Ribera del Duero DO came to an end on 22 October after 54 days of work, and the results are now in.

A total of 7,425 winegrowers harvested grapes from 27,256ha in a year which was marked by ‘complex weather conditions’, the DO said.

Closing in with a total of 117.6 million kilos, a ‘pronounced and changing climate’ impacted the growing cycle: summer was characterised by drought, followed by heavy rains and low temperatures in the first half of September; and finally by extreme heat in the second half of October.

However, several mitigating measures were used to offset some of the bigger challenges, including a greater presence of hand-harvesting, which enabled yields to be significantly lowered to an average of 4,315 kilos per ha.

“This work, despite being more physically and economically demanding, makes it possible to be much more precise when selecting the bunches in order to control production from the vineyard itself. In this year’s campaign, harvested by hand has increased to 72.1% of the total area, which is proven by the excellent results.”

This year’s crush was 12% higher than 2022, when the total sat as 105 million kilos. In 2023, 928,895 kilos were white grapes, while 116,690,407 kilos were red, mostly Tinta Fina.

Despite its various challenges, the DO is celebrating the overall ‘positive effect’ of the year’s weather, with the rains in September allowing the grapes to increase in size and complete the alcoholic and phenological ripening processes during October. This has also helped vine growers and wineries to stagger harvesting times, collecting the grapes at their optimum point of ripeness.

“As a result, this vintage will produce very different wines with very different qualities, depending on the terroir in which they have evolved. The white and rosé wines are characterised by a great aromatic intensity and freshness without an excessive concentration of alcohol, as is also the case with red wines. These, in turn, will be characterised by their aromatic potential, their great structure and complexity,” the DO said.

Also notable from this year’s harvest is the widespread use of the WebBacchus app by many of the region’s technical teams. Developed and patented by the Ribera del Duero DO, this pioneering tool is already being used by other designations of origin across Spain to assist in harvest monitoring.