Very good expectations for the grape harvest despite frost and drought

The 2017 vintage will be remembered as one of the most difficult of the 21st century. Heavy frosts have caused significant production losses in the northern half of Spain and also in other European countries such as France and Italy. In addition, the drought, which has been dragging on since practically the spring of last year, is also conditioning the harvests and we have also had serious hail episodes, such as the one experienced a few weeks ago by producers in the Sierra de Gredos and in other Spanish areas. The terroir of the wines is marked by the soils, the climate, the grape varieties and, although it is sometimes placed in the background, by human intervention. In this campaign, this last factor, at least for Familia Martínez Bujanda, is having an extraordinary importance. Our vineyards are very close to harvest time:
Rioja: We estimate a 20% decrease in production, not because of the frost, which, as we mentioned in a previous post, did not affect our vineyards, but because of the drought. Our technical team has been increasing the concentration of solutes in the sap in Finca Antigua, the most extreme vineyard, for several years to protect us from possible frost. These applications are made preventively one month before sprouting and, fortunately, this year we also used them at Finca Valpiedra and in the vineyards of Viña Bujanda, in Rioja and at Finca Montepedroso (Rueda). The recent rains in June and July have largely alleviated the water stress that rainfed vines have been suffering, making it a perfect year for Rioja vineyards that have not been irrigated, such as those of Finca Valpiedra and those of Viña BujandaWe have been able to work on demand, i.e. without excesses. However, the uncontrolled use of irrigation by many winegrowers has led to an intensification of practices such as green pruning, leaf removal, leaf stripping or thinning, which, in principle, should have been more relaxed this year. Also, with the abuse of irrigation, the soil has been fertilized for fungal diseases.
Rueda: we estimate a 10% lower harvest due to partial frost damage. Although the drought in Castilla y León is very striking, it is not as important for woody crops as for herbaceous crops. In July we have measured rainfall close to 50 l/m2, enough to obtain optimal yields to make our wine, Finca Montepedroso. Although we have drip irrigation, we do not believe it is necessary to use it, since the vineyard is a rainfed crop that, if not accustomed to excessive irrigation, in addition to producing diluted, watery and neutral wines, becomes much more sensitive to diseases and pests.
La Mancha: paradoxically, in Finca Antigua we have had no frost incidence. However, this is the fourth year of drought, so the situation is worrying and, although we have drip irrigation on 95% of the estate, rainwater is very necessary because our vineyards are surrounded by hills, that is, a natural perimeter that is under great water stress. The estimates we are working with are that in Finca Antigua we will have 15% less harvest due to the drought compared to last year.

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