Harvest is the most exciting time of year around the world but ever more complicated thanks to the effects of climate change. We talked to some of our producers in Italy about how they managed this year’s incessantly long hot and dry summer, which, in Italy, lasted from late May until at least mid-August when temperatures broke thanks to some much-needed
Scott Kelley of PAUL O’BRIEN and OREGON TERRITORY
We had a late year in Oregon due to a cold wet April where we saw frost followed by a month of cold rainy weather. We ended up starting harvest almost a month later than typical [for the area]. Quite often, we are sure to get some rain in early October in Oregon, however this year Mother Nature blessed us with warm days in the 80s which offered up the ability to get everything perfectly ripe. With cool nights and warm days, the vines were able to ripen slowly and retain their beautiful acidity. The rain held off until the 22nd of October allowing us to finish up the harvest in just 4 weeks vs. a typical 6–8-week harvest. Needless to say, we are ecstatic to have had such perfect weather and not having to endure a wet rainy vintage. The yields ended up being average to above average and the quality looks amazing. The Pinot Noir is showing very bright fruit and elegant texture. I think this is going to be a very age-worthy vintage with classic Oregon character.
McPrice “Mac” Myers of McPRICE MYERS, HARDWORKING SERIES, M by MAC & BILLY
This vintage was a Tale of Two Harvests so to speak. We had a major heat spike in the beginning of September and that wasn’t a major issue, but also it was. We started picking 22 days early and then were suddenly off to the races, picking fast and furious. We picked about 20% before the end of August. It was the earliest vintage in 62 years. I would say we picked 65-70% by mid September. It was the complete opposite in Santa Barbara. After the heat spike, we saw September rains and while the rain didn’t affect us the BRIC was stuck, which is not uncommon. It takes it a while to get back on track but all the fruit is gorgeous. We were really patient and diligent with sorting and are very happy.
Italy by Region and Grower
Andrea Costanti of CONTI COSTANTI
In the end, it was an excellent quality vintage – in some ways, a fantastic surprise.
For us, it was the earliest harvest in history – we picked 12-16 September at Colle Matrichese. In the past, the earliest we started was 17-18 September. For example in 2003, 2012 and 2017.
The growing season was dry until late May and only got back on track in terms of rain in mid-August. This was early too as the temperatures lowered and overnights were cool.
The must is at the end of fermentation now and is showing excellent acidity with potential alcohol levels around 13.8-14.6%.
The structure is excellent, the color gorgeous and the tannins soft yet distinct, typical of hot vintages.
We want to see how the wine evolves, but we are sure we will make a 2022 Brunello Riserva.
Daniele Zeffirini of FULIGNI
The 2022 harvest was not totally regular. After a mild winter with little rain, spring was hot and dry, and flowering and veraison came earlier than usual. The early summer months were also hot and dry but cool nights, typical to northern Montalcino, helped stave off water stress in the vines.
August was mild and there was a lot of rain, which re-balanced the grapes normalizing harvest times. We finished in late September.
The grapes were extremely healthy and high quality, with gorgeous acidity, rich in anthocyanins and balanced alcohol, typical to vintages destined to long aging.
Franco Bernabei for SUPREMUS, MONTE ANTICO and TOSCOLO
- Average rain until March 2022 and no snow or drastically low temperatures.
- Spring saw very little rain, which mostly fell in the month of May. April saw high temperatures, which started the growth cycle about 15 days early. Fortunately, there was no frost, and the growth cycle was consistent.
- Very little rain in June and July, however, there was over 60 mm of rain in the second half of August. Temperatures reached over 38 °C but there were excellent diurnal temperature changes with nighttime temps as low as 16 °C; Veraison began in early July, about 10-15 days early and in fact, grape maturation as a whole was about 10-15 days early. The vineyards did not suffer drought conditions.
- Average daytime temperature of 28-30 °C and nighttime temps of 16-18 °C. The grapes saw morning dew and were perfectly healthy and crisp with an average number of clusters. Alcohol levels were a bit over the average.
The 2022 vintage will surely be an excellent one, with healthy, full grapes leading to wines suitable to long aging.
Stefania Bussotti of CIGNALE
The 2022 vintage saw great dryness in spring and summer with about 50% less rain than 2021 and very high temperatures that began in late spring and lasted for a long period. Considering we are in elevated hills, full of forests and soils with good water reserves, the growth cycle was quite regular for us even if a little bit early. The weather changed in mid-August with a series of strong storms that brought abundant rains and lower temperatures. These conditions were decisive in helping the vines overcome the first signs of suffering and gave them the push they needed to complete full maturation. Harvest took place about 15 days earlier than usual, in early September. The quantities are about 15% higher, while the quality is excellent.
Lorenzo Ficini of ARILLO IN TERRABIANCA
While 2022 was different for each of our estates, there was one common link between the three: there were many sunny days –also in spring. Until mid-August, we thought we would be harvesting early, but thankfully, some rainfall in late August balanced everything out. We harvested about 10 days earlier than average.
We saw some water stress in our Maremma vineyards, but this was mitigated by cool nights and the fact that temperatures never exceeded 40 °C (104 °F) like in other difficult vintages (like 2003 and 2017). Radda and Pienza did see some water stress, but it wasn’t a limiting factor and quality is excellent. We expect perfumed, balanced, and medium-structured wines with good aging potential.
Gioia Cresti of CARPINETA FONTALPINO
The growth cycle was great, very productive. Spring saw average rainfall and everything was regular. However, in late May, the hot, dry season began, though the water reserves gave us hope. In August, we were a bit worried, because we saw early symptoms of drought, but with the heavy rain in August everything stabilized. Harvest went well, just a week early, but the health of the grapes allowed for a peaceful picking. Vinification is going well and it’s early, but I think 2022 will be great quality!
Giuseppe Pancrazi of MARCHESI PANCRAZI
The 2022 vintage was positive in terms of quantity and quality. The rains in late August helped the last phase of maturation. All of the wines, which have already been racked, show persistent and intense aromas, which leads us to believe this will be an excellent vintage.
Franco Bernabei of FELSINA
We can certainly say that it was an unusual year, especially in terms of the weather. We saw very little rain from March to mid-August. Budding came early, and fortunately, the cold didn’t come back and production was thus uncompromised. Sangiovese began ripening in mid-July. The vines were able to stand up to water stress and we carefully managed the canopy. The vineyards saw heavy rain starting 15 August –120 mm in 20 days and there were a few hailstorms. There were a few issues but overall, the grapes are very good quality.
Laura Gatti of FERGHETTINA
The 2022 season saw a warm spring, early bud break, and perfect fruit set. The rest of the growing season saw abnormally high temperatures and a great lack of rainfall. We harvested 8-22 August. The grapes were perfect, but lower in quantity. The quality is excellent, especially Pinot Noir.
We expect rich and structured wines that still maintain their freshness.
Francesca Dal Cero of CORTE GIACOBBE
Winter 2021-22 was very dry – it rained very little and didn’t snow at all so the vineyards began the growth cycle with very little water reserves. It also began somewhat later than the year before, but thanks to the hot summer temperatures, it got back on track. Fortunately, we saw some rain in late July and the vineyards we able to recuperate and flourish. Especially the late-ripening varieties, like Garganega. We expect an excellent harvest with average quantities.
Trentino Alto Adige
Alfredo Albertini of LAGARIA
Overall, it was a good vintage, surely better than we had imagined.
The unfavorable picture of late July-early August, caused by widespread though patchy drought resolved itself with welcome rain. The dry season however did facilitate better control of fungal diseases, reducing the frustrating need for emergency phytosanitary interventions. The end result is beautiful, healthy, and crisp grapes, guaranteeing clean and easy fermentation. Finally, September’s favorable climate fostered excellent phenolic maturity in the reds, which bodes well for quality. Our whites, from painstakingly selected grapes, should see natural alcohol levels and medium-high extract as well as a sensory profile that will certainly favor roundness and balance.
Andi Punter of FRANZ HAAS
Harvest is going well and we are very satisfied with the grapes that we are bringing back to the cellar. The quality is very good so we expect good results this year.
Fortunately, we didn’t have big problems with the weather and the little hail we saw didn’t cause any grave damage.
It’s definitely a great help that we have high-altitude vineyards, which is reassuring, allowing for excellent quality even in a hot vintage like 2022.
Elisa Marchetti of MARCARINI
The 2022 vintage showed us once again the vines’ amazing ability to adapt.
Budbreak started on time and was slow and even. Flowering was exceptional because we had sunny days with mild temperatures. Fruit set began a bit later due to water stress. Thanks to the extraordinary health of the grapes, we were able to wait until the perfect moment to pick the Nebbiolo (for Barolo) grapes and as a result, the aromatics are exceptional, and the tannins show great power.
We can’t deny that we had to face two huge problems this year – drought and excessive temperatures. However, we are thankful to have soils rich in clay, which retain humidity in the soil. The age of the vines also helped, as the roots of vines over twenty years old dig over 9 meters down. Fortunately, the rain we did get in August ensured good final yields though about 20% less than the average.
As for the temperatures, the work we did in the vineyard was fundamental. We left more foliage to protect the grapes among other things.
We are really satisfied with the great potential that our grapes have shown, the only thing is that there will be a bit less – as the saying goes, “Pochi ma buoni!” (Roughly, lower quantities, but excellent quality!)
Mattia Donna of TORRACCIA DEL PIANTAVIGNA
We finished harvesting last Saturday and for the most part, the grapes were perfectly ripe and in excellent health. This vintage did suffer the drought though – especially in Gattinara and the vineyards in Ghemme with less clay.
The older plants – 25 years or more – were able to withstand the water stress better.
We’ll see about 30% less in production this year.
Beatrice Gaudio of GAUDIO BRICCO MONDALINO
The 2022 vintage was interesting for two reasons – the extreme drought conditions and the very high temperatures registered starting in May and going through September. This stressed the vineyards in a way Piedmont has never really seen. After good budbreak and early flowering, the vines started to slow down due to the heat until we got (very little) rain in May and June only to start suffering again. Veraison began about three weeks early! We were worried mainly about a few things: oidium, scorched grapes, not reaching full maturation and hailstorms. Harvest ended 10 October but the whole period went crazy fast as everything seemed to ripen at the same time.
We are down about 10-15% in quantity, but the sugar concentration, anthocyanins and tannins are incredible. The aromas are also extremely intense and complex. It might seem strange, but some grapes are actually larger meaning they didn’t suffer the water stress as much.
This was certainly a highly unusual vintage, very different from the balanced and elegant 2021. This vintage is powerful, similar to 2016 and 2017, and very unique and complex.
Rocco Cipollone of FEUDUCCIO
Healthy grapes and excellent quality: these are the keywords for the 2022 harvest, which just finished. We began about a week early and this year the quality is pleasing despite drought conditions. The record temperatures didn’t compromise the vineyards and the grapes are perfect. All of the grape varieties ripened exceptionally well, with perhaps more concentrated sugars and a bit lower acidity. The whites are excellent while the reds show vivid, intense and refined aromas.
Overall, we expect excellent wines.
Gianfranco Sabbatino of LE CASEMATTE
An excellent vintage — healthy grapes, rich in terms of sugar and acidity.
Michele Faro of PIETRADOLCE
This vintage was very dry, with sporadic rain in August and early September. The excellent weather in October allowed for healthy, clean, quality grapes in our pre-phylloxera vineyards. On Etna, because it is 800-900 meters (2,625-2,953 feet) above sea level, we didn’t suffer too much during the heat wave. And in any case, we are pretty used to it in Sicily.
With the climate this season, and based on our experience, we expect excellent results in the bottle. We will surely have wines with great character and structure, balanced by elegance and finesse, things that high-altitude volcanic Nerello Mascalese and Carricante are known for.
Ampelio Bucci of VILLA BUCCI
For us, this season was very dry, and we were very worried. But what saved us were the old vineyards – at least 50 years and one even 65 years old.
These vineyards have very deep roots in soils with a strong presence of active limestone, but below that, clay, which holds humidity. Thus, the vines stood up well to the heat, also because we are constantly out in the vineyards managing the canopy, ensuring that some leaves protect the grape clusters (We don’t cut the leaves of higher branches anymore). We’ve also experimented with spraying a bit of kaolin on the leaves and grapes. This thin veil protects the grapes, if only temporarily from the scorching sun. We were also fortunate to see at least a half day of rain on the second day of harvest, which helped a lot. Now the wines are just finishing up their very slow fermentation. We don’t think there were any qualitative consequences from the season – so we are hoping for excellent quality with about 13% alcohol.
Having always done limited quantities – 60-70 quintals per hectare – we won’t even see much of a reduction in quantity at all.
Friuli Venezia Giulia
Angela Bortoluzzi of BORTOLUZZI
Contrary to predictions made in August, the 2022 harvest turned out to be better than expected and considerably in line with last year’s quantities.
The growth cycle saw record drought conditions and temperatures that began in early spring. The lack of water was undoubtedly our biggest challenge. Those of us who are allowed to irrigate, were able to take advantage of the weather, and ended up with higher numbers than 2021 and excellent healthy grapes.
Budbreak did start late for us, but gradually recovered in terms of time and harvested ending up coming early – in late August for Sauvignon, followed by Pinot Grigio and eventually the other wines whites.
The other “challenge” this vintage was finding the right time to harvest the grapes to have the perfect balance between sugar and acidity, especially for the whites. In fact, when temperatures exceed 28 °C (82.4 °F) photosynthetic efficiency is lower and consequently, the accumulation of sugars also slows down and acidity decreases rapidly. However, grapevines are always very generous, often giving providing us with great satisfaction – precisely in the seasons that seem more difficult.
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