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The rain in Spain saves cava harvest

27 August, 2008
Page 6 
Tourists may have been cursing the skies, but Spain's cava producers are toasting a month of rain that has saved their harvest - as long as it stops soon.

More than a third of the Catalan region's annual rainfall has arrived in the last month, ending a prolonged dry spell that had many wineries concerned.

Philip Rowles, international wine manager for major cava group Freixenet, told Drinks International the drought had been "nightmarish" for producers.

"The drought was threatening to knock the vintage on the head. Now we've got enough water, it's just how we manage it. The rivers are as full as I have ever seen them."

In preparation for the reality of climate change, an EC funded research project is underway in the cava region. The Demeter project includes experimenting with different grape varieties, soils and, with government permission, water reservoirs and irrigation systems linked to a weather centre by computer controlled cameras and sensors.

However, so much rain has fallen in the last month that producers' main challenge is now to prevent rot in the vineyards.