The harvest forecasts for the next season 2022/23 made by the Agro-food Cooperatives of Castilla-La Mancha are not very encouraging. Some 19.5 million hectolitres of wine and most in the region are being considered. In particular 13% less than last year’s harvest.
This drop in production may be due to the high temperatures recorded during this summer and the scarcity of rains.
This has been confirmed by the presidents, managers and technicians of cooperative wineries throughout the region during the traditional Wine Assembly of Agro-food Cooperatives of Castilla-La Mancha, held this Thursday at the headquarters of IRIAF in Tomelloso, to report on the legislative, productive and commercial keys of the next wine campaign.
The cooperative organization, which represents more than 75% of the wine production and processing of the region, at the gates of an imminent harvest that will begin with the earliest varieties (chardonnay, moscatel grain often, etc.)The Commission has estimated that 19-19.5 million hl of wine and must will be harvested in Castilla-La Mancha and 36-36.5 million hl in Spain. Last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, the region obtained a harvest of 22.1 million hl of wine and must, and some 22.68 million hl according to INFOVI data, so the forecasts would show a decrease of three million hectolitres less, assuming a decrease of about 13%.
The sectoral spokesman of Cooperatives, Juan Fuente, has recognized that «if we continue in climatic conditions similar to the current ones, with tropical nights and high daytime temperatures, a harvest is expected that could be corrected even more downwards». In addition, he said that «the harvest is going to be anticipated and the drylands will be very long at the end of the cycle due to the intense water stress to which they are subjected, with almost four months without having dropped a single drop of rain and with extreme temperatures».
Forecasts in Spain and Europe
Castilla-La Mancha Agro-food Cooperatives puts the forecast at national level at 36-36,5 million hl for this harvest, which would mean a low campaign, compared to the last five years; with a reduction of between 3,5 and 4 million hi compared to the previous marketing year, around 10% less.
In the European context, it is estimated that France will return to an average year, once the low harvest of the previous year has been exceeded by the spring frosts suffered to a greater or lesser extent by all the Gallic wine regions; and with Italy, which, despite the prevailing drought, is very likely to maintain its production at constant levels. All this, together with the steady decline in production in Spain and Portugal, would constitute a production year very close to the 158.7 million hl obtained last year in the European Union, which is 5 million hl less than the average of the last five years.
«It opens a great opportunity to lighten stocks and normalize availability for upcoming campaigns. Maintaining markets, increasing margins and consolidating customers through differentiated and quality products, would be the keys to attend this year’s international wine markets and get their recognition,» said Fuente, who also warned that «provided that we act with moderation and the vocation of service and regular supply to our customers with whom we usually work».
And is that, from Cooperatives have stressed that the key in this campaign will be the production of quality wines with grapes that are received with greater balance between sugar and acidity, leading to white must both red and white grapes that do not complete their ripening or become unbalanced upon arrival at the winery. That is why «the production of grape juice could be key this vintage, product that has worked very well during the pandemic, and that, due to the shortage of fruit in Europe by the spring frosts, the grape may have a unique opportunity to cover this gap», said the cooperative spokesman.
In relation to the wine stocks in Spain at 31 July 2022, these could be around 36 million hl of wine, of which Castilla-La Mancha would contribute around 10, in addition to 1.20 million hl of must in the region. Figures assessed by the Assembly as very reasonable, since at national level they would represent almost 2 million hl less wine and must compared to the stocks of the previous year.
These figures, according to the cooperative sectoral spokesman «they represent a good performance of the outflows, especially in Castilla-La Mancha, from where an important effort would have been made to lighten stocks, both in export and in the various outflows on the domestic market, having removed more than 24 million hl of wine and must in the whole of the year 2021/22», that is, at a rate of about 2 million hl of wine and must per month.
The assembly has also analyzed the next CAP for the period 2023-2027, in which the same measures and the same budget will be maintained in the wine sector during that period. The extension of the vineyard planting authorisation scheme until at least 2045 has been assessed very positively and the implementation and control of the eco-schemes in the vineyard has been analysed with concern. With regard to the latter, it was concluded that, if the branches after pruning are not crushed and buried in order to promote their rapid mineralisation and incorporation into the vineyard soil, the eco-regime instead of being an environmentally sustainable practice will become a huge health problem in viticulture due to the risk of the spread of wood fungi, a disease not yet resolved worldwide.
In addition, it has been reported the most outstanding contents that the new Law of the Vine and Wine of Castilla-La Mancha contains, being valued positively and that will surely contribute to make a more modern and sustainable sector, provided that the latter can compete on an equal footing with the other regions of Spain and Europe.
At the same time, it has been analyzed with some tranquility that the circumstances do not exist for the increase of the percentage of wine benefit for its destination to alcohol to more than 10% because the stocks and the production of this season will be very moderate. However, since Agro-food Cooperatives the application is still not understood, only in Castilla-La Mancha and for the third consecutive campaign, the limitation contained in the order 134/2022 that establishes 9 degrees of alcohol in minimum potential in grapes for the production of wines for this season 2022/23, since it is a restriction that limits the competitiveness of Castilian wines-Manchegos to supply certain markets of low graduation wines that are so much in demand today, compared to the other wine regions of Spain and the world.
Application of the Law of the Chain
Finally, the Director of Agro-food Cooperatives of Castilla-La Mancha, Juan Miguel del Real, explained the requirements that from the present season 2022/23 will be required to cooperative wineries in their relationship with their suppliers «having to establish before the delivery of the grape, the procedure for determining its value, the schedule of liquidation and that all this is communicated reliably for the knowledge of its proprietary partners».