German wine harvest season has begun! The first grapes of the year were harvested on August 14 at 74 degrees Oechsle in the Pfalz region. According to the German Wine Institute (DWI), this year’s start-of-harvest and the general level of development of the vines align with the average of recent years.
Main harvest starts early to mid-September
The start of the main grape harvest of varieties like Müller-Thurgau is expected in early to mid-September. For the production of sparkling wine, the first Burgundy-variety grapes could be brought in as early as the end of August. Riesling, which ripens later, should be ready to harvest in mid-to-late September, depending on the growing area.
Good starting position in the vineyards
Overall, the situation in the vineyards this year is good, as winegrowers have been spared major weather-related damage so far. After a good flowering of the vines, the fruit set is satisfactory and the grapes are well formed.
There was a lot to do in the vineyards this year due to an exceptionally high infestation pressure caused by powdery mildew, known technically as oidium, which winegrowers ultimately got a handle on.
The severe drought in early summer was also challenging, especially in younger vineyards whose root systems are not yet strongly developed. Some showed symptoms of drought stress, such as wilting, while older vineyards reached deeper water reserves with their long roots. The extensive rainfall of the last few weeks came just in time and in sufficient quantity for the vines.
As of now, the water supply is optimal for further ripening development, especially in connection with the predicted warmer temperatures. If it remains sunny and largely dry in the next few weeks, especially during the main harvest season, we can expect a good quality 2023 vintage.