When it comes to local grape cultivation, excessive rainfall in Puglia, Italy, seems to have become the norm. "Before, you had a bad batch, here and there, among the grapes. However, in the last four years, it happens every time", says Luciën de Wit of LubaFresh in Venlo, the Netherlands. He has just returned from a visit to their Italian grape suppliers.
"The weather conditions were reasonably normal until the beginning of August. The warm nights were, however, not optimal for the grapes. However, in mid-August is started raining hard. This happened in September last year too. This was disastrous for the grapes. They suck up the water and burst open. I estimate that 40% of the grape volumes from Puglia can simply be considered lost. Sicily also had rain, but the consequences there were not as dramatic as in Puglia," he says.
"The higher-lying vines are better off. There are, however, enough grapes that will be sent to the factory. Hopefully, these can still be used for wine", continues Luciën. "All the varieties suffered damage, although the Italian white, pitted grapes are the most sensitive. I currently have an additional quality inspector on location. Quality control on location is crucial this year. Only grapes that are 100% good for export to Europe will get the go-ahead."
There is, according to him, no chance of a grape shortage at the moment. "The problem is that especially now, there are a huge number of different lots and prices on the market. This is only going to become worse in the coming weeks. Here, at auction, grapes sell for EUR6-7 while I still make up to EUR12 for good-quality grapes. This makes trading difficult. The number of very high-quality grapes are, however, very limited. So, they will have to be paid for, " concludes Luciën.