In recent years, nearly every winter has been too warm. This year was no exception. Somewhat cooler weather in March delayed bud burst until late April, but in general, everything was relatively normal and vegetation continued to develop at a normal pace. Precipitation, however, was anything but normal. It felt like it never stopped raining. Rainfall in January and February was higher than usual and in April, twice the norm. A brief period of good weather in May abruptly ended in the middle of the month with torrential rains – sometimes accompanied by hail. In some places, precipitation was four times higher than usual. Unfortunately, it continued in June. As a result, peronospora (downy mildew) infected our vines to an extent never before experienced. Furthermore, it didn’t let up. Implementing plant protection measures in the never-ending rain was a monumental task. Yet, despite the difficulties and despite the fact that in the meantime, we are cultivating our vines according to certified organic practices; we managed to cope quite well.
This has been a year marked by uneven yields: the crop was short in some vineyards, but good to abundant in others. At the start of the harvest, we had considerable doubts and fears about the size of our crop. Now, as things are drawing to a close, we are quite satisfied. The quantity is good – better than in 2015 – and the quality is more than promising. The harvest was relatively quick: we finished in a little over four weeks, not least thanks to greatly increasing the size of our picking crew, as we did last year. We harvest the majority of our vines manually. This year, due to peronospora and during the summer, sunburn, selective harvesting by hand was absolutely essential.
As always at this time of year, it is far too soon to make an accurate prognosis about the newest vintage. Seldom are there truly poor vintages in this day and age. As such, even in a year of such extremes, such as 2016, we have every reason to remain optimistic.
Pictures of the vine owners harvest can be found here.