Praying for rain as a hopeful harvest 2022 begins in Italy.

Grape harvest in the north of Italy began this week.

That’s a cluster of Pinot Noir at Ronco Calino in Franciacorta.

Sparkling winemakers are always the first to pick their fruit. Depending on the winemaker’s style, they need to obtain higher acidity and freshness in order to create the final product they envision.

A high-quality harvest is expected across Italy despite the ongoing drought and high temperatures.

In Franciacorta last month, growers requested and were granted authorization for emergency irrigation. Winemakers simply didn’t have enough water to obtain the desired fruit.

As Franciacorta consortium technical advisor Mario Falcetti explained in an interview, it’s important to remember that the scarcity of water has affected estates across the appellation to varying degrees. As he points out, the vegetative cycle, while impacted by the heat, was by all indicators a healthy one until this summer’s heat wave. Irrigation, he tells the interviewer, will ensure a good harvest.

While winemakers in southern Italy have had a relatively easier time in dealing with climate change, their counterparts in northern and central Italy have faced increasing challenges over the last decade.

In a June interview, prolific winemaker Andrea Lonardi told that “we are seeing things that we have never seen before. Until the 2000s, climate change had positive effects. There are some appellations that have been transformed [by climate change] in terms of quality. Today the situation has completely changed. And we are seeing certain regions that are facing great difficulties. It’s a worrisome situation.”

He has proposed creating a series of reservoirs in affected areas. Some trade observers are proposing new water conservation efforts while others believe that hybrid grape varieties are the key to safeguarding Italian viticulture.

Despite this year’s major challenges (namely drought and extreme eat), most growers in the north and central Italy were spared the wrath of spring freezes and extreme weather events. A healthy crop is expected across Italy.

And with about a month to go before growers began picking white grapes for still wines and reds to follow, they are still praying for rain…

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