Germany welcomes the Earliest Grape Harvest on Record

Aug 8, 2018 | Buyers, Suppliers |

It seems not everyone is having a problem with Europe’s rather steaming hot summer. Yes, thanks to the on-going heat wave, Germany will have its earliest grape harvest on record with the grapes in the Rheinhessen region (on the banks of the river Rhine) being picked this week – which, according to The Telegraph, the previous record was set in 2011.

The country’s winemakers are delighted as you can imagine. Ernst Büscher of the German Wine Institute told Spiegel magazine, “This year we are extremely early. The development of the vines is a good three weeks ahead of the 30-year average.” The winemakers are also preparing for a bumper harvest – and are hoping that the early start will help them compete favourably their rivals, the warmer winemakers of Italy, France and Spain.

The first thing that will be made from the harvest will be a low alcohol cloudy juice made from grape must, which has an ABV of approximately 4%. Called ‘federweisser’ (meaning feather white), it is sold during the months from September to October and enjoyed with savoury dishes. “We are usually four weeks behind the federweisser from Italy, but this year we can catch up faster,” Albrecht Ehses of the local chamber of commerce, told The Telegraph. With an extremely short lifespan, federweisser is rarely exported and around 11m litres are sold in Germany annually.

What is too early to know yet, is how the harvest will affect the region’s famous Riesling wines, as these grapes don’t usually ripen until late September or October and are sometimes picked as late as January. Time will tell on this.

On the one hand, the winemakers may be happy, but others are not due to failed crops caused by the heat and drought, causing the German Farmers Association to call for €1bn (£890m) compensation from the German government. The ministry has warned no decision will be given before the end of August.

Source: The Drinks Business