“The vintage is safe.” Italian growers breathe a collective sigh of relief after August rains “save” the 2022 harvest.

Above: Turbiana grapes photographed last week (September 14) in the Lugana appellation south of Lake Garda. Note the permanently mounted irrigation hose in the bottom of the image. “Emergency irrigation” was allowed across Italy in efforts to counter a drought that began in winter and persisted throughout the summer. Combined with prolonged, extremely high temperatures, it could have represented an existential threat to this year’s crop.

“The harvest is safe. Now we need to address the market situation.”

That’s the title of an e-blast sent out today by the Corriere Vinicolo, the official voice of the Unione Italiana Vini (UIV, the Italian union of grape growers and winemakers).

The missive, including assessments from Italian wine industry leaders, paints a cautiously optimistic picture for this year’s grape crop. Just a month ago, some trade insiders were predicting catastrophe for Italian growers. But early August rains, like a deus ex machina, changed the mood from despair to relief.

“Once again,” said UIV president Lamberto Frescobaldi, borrowing a metaphor from the world of basketball, “the vine has proved to be our team’s center. It has shown that even with high temperatures and drought, we can make high-quality wines in ample quantities.”

“The harvest currently underway is delivering grapes that range from good to excellent in quality,” said Riccardo Cotarella, president of Assoenologi (Italian enologists association).

But as the editors of the Corriere point out, the short-term challenge ahead is market uncertainty.

“Demand [for Italian wines] in foreign markets seems to be holding even though it’s not as strong as 2021” according to Fabio Del Bravo, director of ISMEA (the Institute of Farming and Food Market Services), who is also quoted in the report. “But in the domestic market, there are signs of dropping sales.”

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