Extreme weather events mean Italy’s 2023 wine harvest could be up to 14% smaller than in 2022, said national farming group Coldiretti today (3 August), in an initial forecast based on assessments of the situation across the country.
It’s still early days and much depends on conditions in the coming weeks, said Coldiretti. Yet it said national production could be around 43 million hectolitres in 2023, compared to 50m hectolitres last year.
If this proves accurate, 2023 would rank alongside 1948, 2007 and 2017 as one of the smallest Italian wine harvests on record, it said.
The group said Italy’s vineyards were paying a heavy price for climate change, and it cited recent weather events, from heatwaves to storms.
However, the situation varies significantly across regions. Southern and central areas of Italy were facing heavier potential falls in production, indicated Coldiretti.
Parts of northern Italy faced a series of fierce hailstorms in recent weeks, but Coldiretti said potential yields appeared to be stable in Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto for the time being.
In Sicily, local communities have been among those in Europe facing devastating wildfires in recent weeks. In the vineyards, there have been concerns about the impact of heat and mildew on the 2023 harvest size.
The Assovini Sicilia wine association said this week that the quality of grapes in 2023 has not been compromised, even if some wineries expect production to fall this year.
It quoted Arianna Occhipinti, of her family’s namesake winery in the south-east of Sicily, as saying, ‘The 2023 harvest will be one of the most difficult of the last years. Beside the recent big wave of heat, we had heavy rains in May and June.’
Occhipinti added, ‘The start of downy mildew may impact our upcoming production for about 30-35%… The 2023 harvest will be lower in quantity but higher in quality.’
Assovini Sicilia also quoted producers in the Etna area as saying altitude and breeze have helped to minimise mildew pressure in their vineyards.
In western Sicily, Filippo Buttafuoco, viticultural technician at Cantine Settesoli, said, ‘Right now, the quality of the grapes is excellent, since we managed the powdery mildew, but due to the heat in the past weeks, we lost about 40% of the upcoming production. Since the temperatures dropped down, the unburned grapes are starting to regain strength so the overall drop [in production] could be lower.’