Austrian wine harvest: growers relieved

The Austrian Wine Marketing Board reports that the quality of grapes for the 2015 vintage is high but yields will be average.

Austrian Winegrowers’ Association president Johannes Schmuckenschlager reports: “This year’s crop of wine grapes has made it through a blisteringly hot summer, with desert-like days and tropical nights, in good condition.

“In terms of quantity, growers are anticipating a very satisfactory harvest, one that moreover is expected to yield material of high quality. Following the difficult vintage of 2014, estates are reckoning with a volume of 2.4–2.5 million hectolitres,” he said.

The AWMB said: “After a problematic vintage and diminished harvest in the previous year, wine producers saw themselves off to an optimistic start in this year’s vegetation period, thanks to adequate moisture during the winter and a lovely springtime. After a nice flowering, significant precipitation fell in many regions before the vineyards, like other crops, were confronted with a hot and dry summer. Arid conditions and long periods of heat with temperatures well above the 30°C level brought vineyards to the edge of their endurance, particularly those planted on shallow soils and the parcels of young vines. Irrigation systems, where extant, found themselves in constant operation and growers took viticultural steps to counter the drought stress, removing many clusters in the younger plantings in order to preserve the vitality of the vines.

“The long-awaited rain finally fell in mid August; most regions received amounts that could be considered adequate. The vineyards, which in many cases had been ‘running on pilot lights’, were then able to swing the vegetation process into high gear and propel their still-healthy clusters dramatically forward into development. The hot period of the last weeks could then exert the optimum effect on the ripening process, while the recently cooler nights provided a very positive influence upon the development of aromaticity in the grapes,” said the AWMB.

Schmuckenschlager concluded: ‘If the weather continues to smile upon us so favourably, we have a very good, fully ripened vintage in store, with somewhat higher alcohol content and milder acidity than we had last year.”