2020 Harvest Update: Optimal Weather Conditions for Aromatic Wines

Earlier this month we provided an update on the 2020 harvest, reporting that the first grapes to be picked for this year’s Federweisser, a German wine specialty, had reached record ripeness. Now, the harvest for Federweisser, the base wines for German Sekt, and a number of other early-ripening grapes is in full swing across Germany’s 13 wine regions.

Around late August every year, the maturation of early ripenining varieties, such as Frühburgunder, Sauvignon Blanc or Müller-Thurgau, indicates the start of the main harvesting season. Late ripening grape varieties such as Riesling, however, are usually ready for harvest around mid to late September, but this depends on the weather conditions of each winegrowing region.

Optimal Weather Conditions for Aromatic Wines

So far, the start of the main harvest has graced German winemakers with favorable weather. The recent warm autumn days and cool nights are forecasted to persist throughout the season, for the joy of German vintners. The oscillating temperature within the day contributes to the development of the grapes, with warm days providing ripeness and characteristic fruit notes and cool nights ensuring they retain their freshness and acidity. Coupled with a slow ripening process, the 2020 vintage promises fruit-driven white wines and color-intensive red wines.

Yield Will Differ Across Regions

Despite the good health of grapes across regions, the upcoming vintage’s yield will differ dramatically, due to uneven rainfall ditribution. While older vines remained relatively unaffected, younger vines and vineyards on soils with good drainage have produced smaller grapes, due to a lack of natural irrigation.

In the regions of Franken, Saale-Unstrut and Sachsen, late frosts in May also reduced the expected yields by up to 30 percent. Some sites also witnessed hailstorms, which caused considerable damage to the producers affected. The increased incidence of sun is another contributing factor to the reduced yield.

The 2020 vintage yield is cautiously estimated based on a harvest volume of around nine million hectolitres, which is approximately equivalent to the ten-year average. We’ll share a more accurate forecast in a few weeks, when the harvest is more advanced.

Get an overview of viticulture in Germany here, and stay tuned for updates on the main 2020 harvest and more!