Harvest 2014 begins in Italy, a challenging vintage

coccaglioAbove: the village of Coccaglio as seen from a vineyard owned by Franciacorta producer Arcari-Danesi; photo taken in April 2014.

According to a press release issued this week by the Franciacorta consortium, growers in Coccaglio (Brescia province) began picking Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Nero grapes on Monday.

They are among the first in Italy to harvest in one of the most challenging vintages in recent memory.

According to Coldiretti, Italy’s national farmers union, the month of July saw a roughly 74 percent spike in average rainfall with respect to 2013.

As Corriere della Sera wine writer Luciano Ferraro noted this week on his blog, 1,000 mm of rain fell in the region of Trentino (northern Italy) during the first seven months of 2014 — the average amount of rainfall for a normal year.

Across northern and central Italy, a rainy and cool July has slowed the growing cycle. As Ferraro put it, citing the song by the Doors, winemakers are literally waiting for the sun. The arrival of warmer weather will be crucial: without it, the grapes will take too long to ripen fully and rot and mildew — already an issue for many growers in this wet, chilly summer — will go unchecked.

In Proseccoland, where nearly daily rainfall continues to plague the vineyards, producers expect to start picking in early September.

In central Italy, most are expecting harvest to begin around the middle of September. They cool weather, some have noted, has brought 2014 in line with the growing cycles of the 70s and 80s — the era before climate change delivered extremely warm summers and accelerated harvests.

In southern Italy, where winemakers have experienced a more “classic” growing cycle, many will begin picking their grapes next week.

weather italy harvest 2014Above: a screen capture taken at 3 p.m. Italian time.

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