Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Franciacorta knuckles down for early harvest as yields threaten to fall 30%

Published:  09 August, 2017

Drought, frost and hailstorms have been the bane of northern Italian vineyards so far in 2017, leading to an early harvest which is expected to significantly reduce yields.

Vignerons in Franciacorta in the Lombardy region of northern Italy have a difficult road ahead of them over the next few months.

Italy’s national agricultural association, Coldiretti, ended last week by announcing that the country’s recent climate woes could lead to depleted yields of up to 30%, with Franciacorta, which is known for producing spumante, expected to one of the worst affected.

In April, widespread frost-affected vineyards across northern Italy were further impacted by unusually warm temperatures in March which made the young shoots were even more vulnerable to the freezing temperatures.

At the time, Il Giorno di Brescia reported that 40% of farmland in Franciacorta could be affected.

As a result, the Franciacorta region officially launched the 2017 harvest on Friday, August 4 - ten days earlier than last year and reportedly the earliest start for the region in a decade.

According to the Franciacorta control board, the harvest is already presenting challenges with “profound differences” in ripening across the region.

The consortium, which represents 116 wineries in the region, clarified In a statement that “this was due to an uneven resumption of the vegetative cycle after the cold snap.

“A lot also depends on the vineyard management measures that each estate decided to apply in the months following the extraordinary weather event – with some opting for pruning – the pruning method used and, most importantly, the extent of the damage suffered.

“In fact, vine recovery was extremely uneven. Some vines resumed their development, although with less fruit load than normal, and, in any case, delayed in comparison to non-frost affected vineyards.”

Grape health however was described as “relatively uneventful”, with alternating weather patterns from heat to rain in July favouring grape ripening.

While some outlets report that quality is expected to provide an unexpected tailwind, the consorzio’s vice-president Silvano Brescianini, said that drawing conclusions would be difficult for the time being.

“We’ll have a more accurate idea of how this year shapes up once picking is over and we know exactly how much we’ve harvested. Next spring, when the blends are assembled, we'll also have a clearer picture of the quality of the 2017 vintage,” he said.

Climate difficulties could pose difficulties for the world’s number on producing wine region by volume.

Last year, Italy produced 5.16 billion litres of wine, but whether overall production will be affected will depend on weather conditions in the coming months, Italy’s agricultural association said.