Czech winemakers brace themselves for low harvest
Winemakers in Moravia and Bohemia are bracing themselves for an extremely low harvest this year, with estimates that crop levels could be 50 or even 80 percent lower than usual. A combination of severe weather conditions throughout the year is being blamed for poor grape yields, which are expected to lead to an increase in the prices of Czech wines next year.
“If it was half it would be nice, but the losses are worse than that. In some vineyards, we will only harvest 30 percent of what we did in recent years. There were two major factors: deep frost at the beginning of the year, with temperatures of minus 22 or 23 degrees that froze the buds on vine bushes; and widespread fungal diseases which were too resistant to be stopped even with chemicals. That destroyed entire grapes.”
The drop in crops should not threaten the livelihoods of Czech wine producers, according to the head of their association, Jiří Sedlo. They will be able to rely on wine from previous vintages. But the low harvest will most likely drive up wine prices. Kateřina Kafková is one of the owners of Vinařství Chrámce, a medium-sized vinery in northern Bohemia.
Some of the wine varieties are more vulnerable to extreme weather conditions than others. One of the most popular white strains, Gruner Veltliner, for example, has been hit very hard. Other varieties are more resistant.
Smaller yields also mean that grapes will have higher sugar content, which in turn means the wine will be of better quality. Jaroslav Springer runs the south Moravian vinery Springer and Stapleton which specializes in the Pinot Noir variety.
According to a recently re-established tradition, people will be able to sample this year’s wine on St Martin’s Day, which is November 11. Despite the low harvest, winemakers are hoping to sell a record 1.6 million bottles of young wine.