Extreme drought endangers wine harvest

 In Agriculture, News, Wine

A combination of extreme drought and the heat wave could seriously affect wine production in Portugal.

In the Upper Douro grapes are already showing signs of stress because of a lack of water and the high temperatures.
According to Bernardo Napoles owner of Quinta do Monte Travesso, the vine plants are stunted in some cases, while leaves have begun to turn brown which is normal in October after the wine harvest, but in June and July is highly unusual.
“With these heat waves in June and July the vines are suffering immensely. There clearly won’t be enough time for the grapes to mature, with a considerable fall in production as a result”, he told RTP on Tuesday.
“I don’t want to think about losses in terms of numbers”, but another vineyard suffered its worst harvest in 2021 since 1957 with losses of €2Bn.
An increase of just 2º in temperatures could reduce the world’s wine production by around 50% according to some estimates.
“The situation could really be catastrophic this year with castes that cannot withstand the current conditions, and much lower harvests with the vine ecosystem on the verge of completely collapsing in some areas”, reports RTP
According to the Association for the Development of Douro Winegrowing (ADVID), the drought and high temperatures have caused a notable fall in production in the Douro wine region.
“What we’re seeing is that the very high temperatures are causing the vine flowers not turning into fruit, the wall of leaves that protect the grapes are drying out, and the grapes are smaller”, said Rosa Amador, the General Director of ADVID, adding that the severe drought in Vila Real would cause a “notable fall in production” in the area.
The association forecasts that the wine harvest for 2022 may not even achieve the minimum harvest of around 262,000 barrels (the range being between 262,000 and 287,000 barrels). Last year wine production in the Douro Valley was 264,000 barrels.
Winemakers are no strangers to the vicissitudes wrought by climate change. Warmer temperatures have been a boon to some in cooler regions (the UK is actually producing some good white wines now) – who are rejoicing over riper berries — but devastating to others. Scorching heat waves, wildfires and other climate-driven calamities have ruined harvests in Europe, North America, Australia and elsewhere.
But according to reports, Portugal is experiencing its worst drought in 1,200 years with severe implications for wine and olive production.
The extended Azores High acts as a “gatekeeper” for rainfall into Europe, according to a study, with dry air descending in the summer months to cause hot, arid conditions in much of Portugal, Spain and the western Mediterranean.
In the cool, wetter winter period, the high-pressure system swells, sending westerly winds carrying rain inland.
This winter rain is “vital” for both the ecological and economic health of the region, but it has been decreasing, particularly over the second half of the 20th century.
While previous research had not untangled the effects of natural variability on the Azores High, the authors of several studies say their findings show its expansion during the industrial era is linked to the rise of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.