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Heatwave strikes Italy's wine production

Published:  23 July, 2008

ITALY: The country is facing a shortage of wine due to the unprecedented heatwave.

But the good news is the quality of wine produced from Italy's north-eastern regions will be of exceptional quality, said the wine producers' association Unione Italiana Vini (UIV).

The heatwave throughout the spring and summer has caused the grapes to ripen a month early. This means there will be a shortage of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Italian sparkling wines.

Pickers were brought in to begin the grape harvest in the Veneto and Trentino regions on 6 August 2007 - the first time in living memory that a harvest has taken place in early August.

UIV said that this year's vintage could be up to 10% smaller than the 50million hectolitres produced in 2006.

But "expectations of the quality of the next harvest are good," it added.

Late last month, temperatures in Italy soared to over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), including in wine-growing regions such as Sicily and Puglia.

Scores of fires raged up and down the country, killing two people and burning hundreds of hectares (acres) of vegetation.

Last year, Italy sold 9billion (6.12bn) worth of wine, including 3.2bn(2.18bn) overseas.