Wines & Vines

Early harvest in Europe – News This Month:October 2003; because of extreme hot weather

Early harvest in Europe – News This Month:October 2003; because of extreme hot weather – Brief Article

* The extreme hot weather of late summer has led to an early harvest throughout most of Europe, and first reports say quality is exceptional.

Bernard Hervet of Bouchard Pere et Fils in Burgundy, told The New York Times that it is the earliest harvest there since 1893. Often, early harvests lead to great wines, according to French winemakers. Early harvests are also going forward in Italy and Germany.

Georges Duboeuf reports from Beaujolais that the harvest was finished by the end of August. It is the earliest harvest in Beaujolais since 1893. Duboeuf said. By law, Beaujolais grapes must be harvested by hand. “One of our challenges was to find people to pick the grapes,” Duboeuf explains, “as most people were still away on holiday. We also had to bring our winemakers back two weeks early from vacation to open the winery.”

Duboeuf said that quality is expected to be superb, but quantity will be down because of spring frosts and summer hail. Overall, the harvest for Beaujolais is expected to be down by 40%.

Duboeuf, who cut short a trip to the U.S. in order to rush home for the harvest, is extremely optimistic about the quality of the vintage. In fact, Duboeuf feels, “the 2003 vintage may turn out to be the greatest vintage of my career.”

In Bordeaux, vineyard owners rushed back from their month-long August holiday to bring in the grapes. There was also a scramble to find grape pickers there.

“With Haut-Brion, we were the first two chateaux to pick our whites on Wednesday, Aug. 13, which never happened, I think, in known Bordeaux history,” Florence Cathiard, who with her husband, Daniel, owns Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, told The Times. Many winemakers say the growing season has not been this hot since that of 1947, which produced a legendary vintage.

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