The harvest enters its final stretch in Castilla y León with good expectations of production and quality despite the drought
Rueda will beat his record of 125 million in 2018, Ribera already exceeds 63; 11 million will reach Bierzo, below but with a «very healthy» grape; and will remain stable Cigales, with eight million, and Toro, with 23.5.
The harvest in Castilla y León enters its final stretch with good expectations of production and quality despite the drought and water stress suffered by the vineyards this year. Despite the fact that some designations of origin already have eyes on the finish line and others still have weeks to close the grape collection, the Community is already beginning to take stock of a 2022 marked by the absence of rain and specific storms that, However, they have contributed to a better health status of grapes.
So, Rueda will finish his harvest next week. The general director of the Regulatory Council, Santiago Mora, assures that it will do so with a «record production» due to the harvest of new hectares that were planted in recent years, in addition to the rain that «has not arrived» in general, but with a storm on August 28 that improved yields. To this is added the great weight that the irrigated vineyards have taken in the OJ, which covers the water needs that they could have.
Mora recalls, in statements to Ical, that at the beginning of the harvest the prospects because of «water stress and heat waves» were not positive and there was «concern», with an early campaign, «more than ever», «but it was something circumstantial because in the end the maturation times have been the same as other years».
In any case, he warns that a part of the more than 140 million kilos that have entered so far in the winery «make him disqualified, not entitled to DO». Even so, it will beat the previous record, dating from 2018, when 125 million kilos were collected qualified.
In one of the longest campaigns remembered in Rueda, which will go to 50 days, Mora justifies that this has been «very asymmetrical, with different maturations», which «has complicated the year», although he sees the glass half full, because each vintage «defines the final personality of the wine» and that of 2022 will be characterized by an «atypical» vintage, whose sanitary state of the water is «great». «Now, to wait and see if the aromas that develop are maintained,» he says.
63 million kilos already in storage
The president of the Regular Council of Ribera del Duero, Enrique Pascual, figures in 63 million kilos that are collected in the area, although he does not dare to give the data of the area harvested to predict a final estimate. Of that amount, 61 million correspond to red and almost two to white.
In 2021 they received 110 million kilos, then 10.7 percent less than in 2021 (132.2 million), with a campaign that extended for 53 days, when this year goes just one month after starting the first wineries on August 30. «We are not sure that the harvest will be longer than other years. A month and a half usually lasts the campaign,» he told Ical.
It also highlights the «perfect» health status of grapes due to drought. In fact, he stressed that «there are usually no problems other years, and this, less».
The «Numantine» vineyards
In the same line the harvest has been shown in the DO Toro, where after six heatwaves the sector predicted, with the first heavy, that production could drop 20 percent. «But in August plants endured numantina form and have been able to metabolize acids into sugars, not only by dehydration, but in the vegetative cycle. They have not been much affected by drought. Somehow the plant has responded very well», says the president of the Regulatory Council, Felipe Nalda, who predicts that the 5,400 hectares reach again the environment of 23.5 million kilos of the last campaign, Today more than 16 million have entered the winery and the harvest has already crossed its equator. Toro has a «fairly stable production, which does not fall below 20 million kilos» in recent years.
Of the 63 wineries, six have already closed by collecting 100%, but another seven have not yet begun. The usual thing in Toro is to close towards the Pilar, on October 12.
Nalda explains that in the DO the year has been very dry, specifically 66 percent below the previous one. As an example, he noted that between 130 and 150 liters per square meter have been collected compared to 327 last year, ie «over a third of the previous campaign».
This has caused the plant to «remain weak due to drought and as it has memory, next year we may find that it pays for this water stress and interferes with production». To this is added that an autumn is expected «peculiar, without many rains, with ups and downs of heat and cold», says Nalda, who is not in favor of climate change, but of «cycles of several years, as has happened historically in Toro».
Reduced harvest but great quality
In the DO Bierzo already assume a harvest more reduced than the one of 2021 in the week in which it is finished. Compared to the 12 million kilos collected last year, this campaign will be around 11, «but with a very healthy grape that will give great wines», according to Ical the head of Communication of the Council, Ricardo Rodriguez, who blames this evolution to the «problems» In addition to the «destruction» caused by wild boars in the vineyards, which have increased in population due to fires caused this summer in high mountains.
Rodríguez points out that the production in Bierzo is very asymmetrical given that it is «almost all smallholdings», when divided between 1,078 winegrowers and 75 wineries the 2,250 hectares qualified. «This causes us to have a little of everything: some plots face north and others south,» he says. The height of the vineyards ranges from 355 meters above sea level to 1,000, with an average age of 75 years in the vines.
The vineyard has held in Cigales
Finally, the technical director of the Regulatory Council of the DO Cigales, Águeda del Val, highlights that the bulk of the harvest is precisely this weekend and that, after starting on September 5, some winery will extend it until mid-October. Of the 32 registered, 22 have already finished and a dozen are still open. On October 1, the harvest is 7.8 million kilos, which, according to Del Val, will finally be around eight million. «It will be a harvest, but the drought has spoiled a lot,» he warns.
In declarations to Ical remembers that from some time to this part Cigales is always in the environment of this figure, with 8,2 million kilos two years ago and 7,9 the past.
This year there has been surface that has been able to irrigate but the drought has caused the degrees «are quite high and the acidity low, something logical», so the winemakers «have worked in the cellar because the weather has been so». In any case, it highlights that the vineyard «has endured the indescribable drought, but the grapes, when they are suffering the heat, are pulling the leaves until they are allowed».
It also applauds the «very good» sanitary conditions, with hardly any treatments. Even the old vineyards, «the ones that could worry most about the drought, have behaved in a great way because having longer roots have endured the lack of moisture».