GREEK HARVEST REPORT 2019
A harvest of high expectations
Source: Greek Wine Federation
For most wine regions throughout Greece, the reports are that this year’s harvest could be the best of the last 20 years. Consistent rainfall, evenly distributed throughout the year, provided the vines with enough water to thrive during the warm summer months of July and August, which came without extreme periods of heat. The grapes, in general, showed excellent health and quality, with harvest beginning later than last year which was actually a return to the more normal ripening periods of earlier years. Harvest in the Aegean islands, though, began earlier than usual. Another characteristic that ran throughout the 2019 vintage is the high acidity which, though characteristic of Greece, is usually difficult to achieve for Mediterranean vineyards. The acidity will bring crispness to the wines and offer longer aging potential. Although production levels tended towards more normal levels, a deficit still remains from much higher production quantities of years past. A significant decline in production was recorded in Macedonia and the Aegean islands, especially in Santorini where, despite good quality, grape production was at an unprecedented low.
The winter months were free of extreme cold, although there was extended snowfall and ground cover, which resulted in a slightly later harvest. April, May and June brought heavy rains that replenished ground water reserves. However, the favorable weather conditions of August and September allowed the early ripening varieties to be harvested at similar dates as last year. A September fall in temperatures and drought delayed the maturation of the late-ripening varieties, similar to 2018, which were harvested late. In general, most varieties yielded lower production levels of between a 10-20% from 2018. Qualitatively, white varieties were highly aromatic with very good acidity, as were the early reds. Both Roditis and Xinomavro were harvested at very good levels of maturity, comparable to 2018. Prices also increased between 10-20% where there was a significant decline in grape production.
Veraison began after mid-July, 10 days later than in 2018. The weather throughout veraison and the ripening season was warm, but without extreme temperatures and low rainfall. The lack of extreme temperatures, and the diurnal temperature variation between day and night, helped varieties maintain acidity and reach phenolic maturity. In terms of quality, the wines of the early-ripening reds are of high quality, with good acidity, color and excellent aromas. The later ripening Xinomavro is showing excellent phenolic potential, aromas and color intensity with alcoholic degrees of 12-12.5%. This year there were increased losses in production than in previous years on specific parcels, due to wild boars.
This year moved toward a more normal vine ripening season. Weather conditions were cold during winter, with long periods of snow, but without extreme temperatures. In May and June, there was little rainfall, but temperatures came in normal for the season. The harvest went smoothly, free of problems, with the whites beginning August 12 and the reds on August 16. In general, the cooler weather conditions favored an even phenolic ripening, with late varieties such as Xinomavro maturing under ideal conditions. Production levels for whites increased slightly while the reds decreased by 5% from last year. There are high expectations for this year’s wines with many seeing 2019 as probably the best harvest in the last 20 years. The whites express rich varietal aromas, full flavors and excellent acidity. The red wines have excellent phenolic ripening, concentrated aromas and very good structure.
AGIO OROS (HOLY MOUNTAIN), CHALKIDIKI
This year’s harvest in Chalkidiki was of high quality. White and rosé wines are distinguished for their specific varietal aromatic intensity and high acidity, while the reds are distinguished for their aromatic concentration and good structure.
Weather conditions in the general area of Drama evolved with mild temperatures and little rain during November/December 2018. Temperatures remained fairly low during the rest of the winter months, which did not adversely affect the vines. Temperatures were slightly higher in the spring which led to quality fruit. From June through mid-July 2019 there were almost daily rains which brought on a late harvest. During the same months there were several hailstorms that affected some of the vineyards. These conditions caused a decrease in grape production, but still allowed for good organoleptic characteristics of the grapes. Acidity levels were good due to the increased humidity. 2019 is showing to be an excellent year for the reds, with good tannins and ripe phenolic conditions. The whites are showing good acidity and fruity aromas.
The vine’s vegetative season at the foothills of Mount Pangeon began during the first ten days of April. Spring and summer were very cool, with adequate rains to provide enough water for vine growth without disease development, and good grape maturation. Weather conditions during ripening and harvest, which were without rain, produced aromatic whites with good acidity and excellent structure. In general, the 2019 harvest will provide quality wines, characterized by rich aromas and velvety mouth feel, due to the even ripening conditions of the grapes and low yields. The red wines, especially, are expected to be aromatic, fruity and bright in color with a high presence of phenolic compounds and excellent structure, giving them good aging potential.
Proper planning and key decisions in managing climatic conditions contributed to a high quality, although reduced, grape production. Fresh, crisp, aromatic white and rosé wines are expected, while reds were characterized by their intense fruity character and excellent phenolic ripeness.
A very good year and reward for the hard work of the vine growers. The year began with heavy rainfall and low temperatures resulting in a delayed start of the vegetative cycle.
In the early days of May there was a late frost, mainly in the Altsia region, as well as a hailstorm towards the end of May across most of the vine-growing zone. Summer temperatures were mostly moderate providing smooth development during the vegetative cycle of the vine, except for a 5-day heatwave during the end of August that damaged some vines. Weather during harvest was excellent and went smoothly under these ideal conditions. The heat wave led to a significant reduction in production across the region, although it resulted in better and faster grape maturation. Qualitative production was very good with no disease outbreaks. Debina in most parts ripened well, with an average sugar content of 12 Be. Debina’s price for PDO wine is expected to rise as efforts are made to reward producers who comply with PDO wine standards.
Winter was heavy with fierce snowfall throughout an unusually long cold season, which included a cool spring. As a result, the start of the vegetative cycle was delayed. The summer months brought normal temperatures, but without rain. In general terms, 2019 was a late year, with September quite dry and warm. Generally, harvest came 10-15 days later than in 2018, but with all grapes in excellent health. Production was around 300-400 kg/ha, depending on the variety, which was slightly higher than the previous year. First indications show that the year will be great for red wines, with good phenolic potential and high acidity, while whites show very strong aromatic characters and expressive mouth feel.
Harvest began on September 19, a 10-day delay from 2018, but which actually brought the grapes back into a more normal ripening period. Grapes were healthy, with good phenolic potential, intense fruit, good color and high potential alcoholic strength.
The weather conditions were usual for the area, with a heavy winter that included low temperatures, snow and frost. Spring was late with normal rain and temperatures for the season. Weather conditions were ideal during harvest with moderate temperatures, no extreme heat and cool evenings. White varieties ripened in the usual season with strong aromas and good acidity due to good rainfall during summer, while during the dry season there was strong sunshine and cool winds at night. Weather during veraison, August and September, was ideal for even maturation of all varieties, especially those that were late-ripening. Red wines had excellent degrees of alcohol, balanced acidity, high concentrations of anthocyanins and round tannins. Grapes were healthy with moderate to low yields during harvest. In general, it was an excellent harvest for the ripening of Greek varieties, with fresh, crisp whites and fruity, round reds.
Spring brought heavy rains, although during summer, temperatures were elevated with low humidity levels. Ripening conditions were normal, with warm weather and little rainfall during harvest. Production was up 15% compared to last year, with superior grape quality compared to 2018. Sugars were at higher levels than last year. Market prices for grapes came in at 40 to 65 cents per kilo.
The harvest began during early August with white foreign varieties, continuing with native white varieties and ending with the reds. This pattern followed a normal ripening season through the last days of September. The health and quality of the grapes was good with excellent structure. This year, as in previous years, the increasing population of wild boar continued to cause great losses of crops, although grape production was similar to 2018.
Winter was relatively cold with good rainfall. The relatively lower average temperatures during March and April resulted in a 13 day delay in the flowering of the vines from the norm. A significant positive impact on the yield and quality of the grapes was caused by rainfall from April through August, which was evenly distributed during this period. This resulted in a good supply of water that helped the vines cope with the warm, dry weather that continued until harvest, but was without extreme temperatures. The harvest began with a 10-day delay, compared to 2018. The grapes were very healthy with good maturity, producing wines that are aromatic and typical of each variety.
Winter was relatively cold and characterized by increased rainfall for the area, which continued until the beginning of summer. Eye growth and flowering took place relatively slowly, giving projections of a late year. The situation changed, though, in the heat of July together with the continuous north winds that dominated in August. These conditions caused an acceleration and inconsistency during the late stages of ripening. This year, however, production was at typical levels for the region with healthy grapes that produced excellent tasting characteristics for all varieties.
Winter was normal with relatively low temperatures and heavy rainfall, especially during spring, although this did not cause difficulty during harvest. During summer the region avoided extreme temperatures and because of the spring rains, the vines had sufficient water to thrive. Harvest was delayed 7 to 10 days, depending on the variety, reminiscent of older, normal vintages. As a consequence, there was good maturation of the whites, and good balance between acidity and alcohol. The reds have excellent phenolic ripeness, rich tannins and good structure. Although production was 10% to 15% lower than the previous year, the quality seems to be the best of the last 5 years. All indications are that this year’s wines will show good evolution and aging potential.
The summer was mild and dry with no rain, while both June and July were cooler than usual. Veraison was delayed approximately 2 weeks. Harvest, which began in mid-August, ended without rain. No cases of fungal diseases were observed, due to the dry summer, resulting in clean, healthy grapes. Grape production was at normal levels, with prices remaining similar to 2018. In general we can call 2019 a great year for all varieties.
Low temperatures during winter and spring, together with continuous rainfall, contributed to late maturation during all stages of ripening. Heat and drought prevailed during the summer months and into September, ensuring the good hygiene of most grape varieties. Yields were at usual levels in the region, with an average of 800 kg/ha, and excellent grape health. The wines are characterized by high acidity, giving aromatic wines with good varietal expression. Although it is still early, first impressions of the reds are very good, showing fruity aromas and color, with high acidity, good phenolic ripeness and structure.
Winter was cold, including plenty of freezing temperatures until March, with heavy rainfall through January (producing 268 mm of rain). The summer was relatively warm and dry. The average temperature did not exceed 24 ° C in August, while a colder, sunny September favored the proper ripening of Moschofilero. Harvest began on October 1 and was interrupted by rain on October 4, delaying harvest, but thanks to previous ideal conditions and exceptional grape maturation, excellent wines are expected.
SLOPES OF AEGALIA
A late year brought harvest in line with more normal times, beginning near the end of August with early-ripening varieties and ending towards the end of October with Roditis grown on the high mountain slopes. The continuous breeze of summer significantly influenced the ripening process, resulting in variations of maturation in the vineyards, depending on the variety. The main highlights of the 2019 harvest were the good health and quality of the grapes. The wines in general are showing high acidity, good fruit, consistent color with the reds also showing good aging potential. Quantitatively and qualitatively this was the best year in recent memory, due to the good water supply in the winter, spring and summer. The persistent winds during the maturation period prevented the development of diseases and kept the vines at optimum stress levels.
Weather conditions were normal through winter with good rainfall in the autumn and spring. During summer, there were no extreme temperatures, although the temperatures were consistently higher than in 2018. Harvest began 10 days later than in 2018, with production higher than 2018 and few mildew problems. The 2019 vintage was good for most all varieties, producing wines with slightly elevated alcoholic degrees and high acidity. Grape prices are expected to remain at the same level as last year or slightly higher.
The absence of severe heat waves until the first half of the summer assisted in proper grape ripening and the production of healthy fruit. During the second half, temperatures rose further, but gradually with the highest temperatures coming in August. The ripening continued evenly, and unexpectedly, due to the prolonged cooling winds that began during the higher temperatures of August and which continued during harvest. Harvest began rather late in August with high grape quality and production levels up by 10% over last year.
Harvest began as usual around August 5 and ended on October 2 in the semi-mountainous and mountainous areas of the island. The year was characterized by moderate (lower than expected) grape production and good levels of sugar, which favor the sweet wines produced on the island. Dry wines are showing good acidity and rich aromatic characters. In general terms, the quality is excellent and without health problems. The prevailing weather conditions were favorable throughout all stages of cultivation. Satisfactory winter rainfall and moderate summer temperatures were also a factor.
Throughout harvest sunshine prevailed, with northern winds and normal to high temperatures. Vineyard production was up by 20% over the previous year. The grapes experienced normal ripening conditions for white varieties and late ripening for the reds. There were no diseases that affected the quality of the grapes.
The year was marked by unusually heavy rainfall during the months of November/2018 through March/2019, with strong winds coming at the end of March and until the beginning of April. While the increased rainfall (a record in recent years) helped plant growth, the strong winds affected the already low yields due to the stress of the plants from the previous year. Cold northern winds at the end of March and then mainly southwestern winds during the first ten days of April affected the growth of the eyes and caused significant damage to the production of new shoots. Some areas, specifically Akrotiri, were affected more than others. Temperatures during ripening were mild and lower than recent years, which favored a good and balanced grape maturation and made for a later and more normal harvest.
Overall output was dramatically low. It is the lowest production of the last 25 years. The total on the island did not exceed 1100 tons, which is the fourth consecutive year with a significant drop in production. (In 2018 the island produced 1800 tons). The quality of the raw material, despite the unusual weather conditions, was good in most cases. The year looks particularly interesting and the wines represent a somewhat different character profile from previous years. The lack of high temperatures resulted in balanced ripening with high acidity, strong aromatic potential and lack of tannins similar to 2016 and 2018. Grape prices, despite dramatically low crop yields and intense competition, although historically high, remained at 2018 levels with a few exceptions.
It was a cold winter, with substantial rain, while the summer was mild without extreme heat, but strong winds. Harvest began early on August 5 and ended September 23. Throughout the year sunshine prevailed with strong northern winds and normal daytime temperatures and humidity. Grape production was reduced by 50 to 60% from the previous year, due to strong winds during the flowering season. The quality of the grapes was excellent, producing high-quality white and red wines with high acidity and rich aromas. Grape prices have risen by up to 50% compared to last year.
Normal temperatures with little rainfall prevailed during the ripening period, resulting in very high quality grapes. The production of white varieties were at normal levels, while red varieties were lower. First indications are showing high quality in the whites and reds.
The year produced the highest quality wines of the last 5 years, although in smaller quantities than the previous year. Extremely low spring temperatures at the start of the vegetation cycle, together with a May wind-storm contributed to a decline in this year’s production. However, a mild summer produced favorable ripening conditions, which ultimately resulted in a harvest of excellent quality grapes. The vintage started late on August 20 with the mountain grown Robola variety and ended well with Mavrodafni on September 20. There are high expectations for the wines, that are remarkable for their quality, with Robola showing strong aromatic potential and extremely rich body.