In 2019 the Northern Hemisphere vintages followed a relatively similar pattern. It will be looked back upon as a challenging vintage where weather conditions provided obstacles to both volume and quality across the year. For a large part of Europe the spring was much cooler and wet than usual, notably Sicily experienced rain until early June. This delayed flowering and provided problems with fruit set that has led to lower than average harvest volume for many parts of Europe. Fortunately, extreme weather conditions were experienced by a limited number of regions, notably frost in Beaujolais, Muscadet and Anjou, hail in the Greek Cyclades and wildfires in California. The most marked feature of this vintage on the resulting wines will be the summer heatwave that saw the highest ever recorded temperature in Champagne of 42.9˚C. This helped grapes achieve full ripeness across all regions but created further limitations on yields due to lack of water availability. In most parts of Europe these conditions came together favourably for grape quality with a good balance between acidity and sugar levels and early indications of wine quality is consistently high.

Latest estimates predict that France’s total harvest came in 15% down on 2018’s bumper crop and 7% down on the five-year average. The story, which is repeated around much of Europe, is of a cool spring, which hindered flowering and fruit set, coupled with heatwaves and drought during the summer months. There were also some localised occurrences of frost and hail, causing major losses in some regions of France.

Early estimates in August that the harvest would be 15% down on 2018 seem to have been optimistic and the final deficit is likely to be in the region of 20%, well below the five-year average. This can largely be attributed to a cool, wet spring which prevented even bud-break.

Spain saw a reduction of around 25% in volume against 2018’s bumper harvest, largely thanks to a cool, wet spring causing irregular flowering, coupled with extreme heat and drought during periods of the summer.

North America
Yet again California faced what has become an annual ordeal of wildfires, this year compounded by a series of power cuts designed to limit their spread. Against this challenging backdrop, winemaking continues and thankfully for the embattled wineries, inclement weather did not compound the challenge that they were facing.

A full report is available to download here.

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