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How is the 2008 Iberian Harvest Shaping Up?

Feel the chill in the air, the earthy aromas of dried leaves and wet soil, the vibrant orange and red colors on the tip of the leaves like small dabs of paint radiating from the deep dark green background? Sigh, this is my favorite time of the year. I love to fill a thermos with hot tea, chocolate, or better yet, mulled wine; layer myself in flannel and fleece; and enjoy a day in the mountains basking in the warm heavy glow of the September sun. The brisk winds rustling the dry, cracking leaves is like music to my ears.

The magic of autumn brings a sense of warmth in my belly, as it calls for heavier and richer foods able to coat my stomach with a sense of fullness. Bright orange pumpkins and vibrant yellow and green squash begin their debut in homes across Spain, and when added with a touch of oil and garlic, how could anyone not be happy?!

Fall is also the time for the time of the harvest, when bodegas across Iberia kick into high gear to begin the grape picking process. Purple hands can be found across the peninsula, harvesting both red and white grapes with the most gentle of care, hoping to preserve every single ounce of flavor from the vineyard to the bottle.

And so far, I am happy to announce that the harvests in both Spain and Portugal are shaping up beautifully. Despite the hail storms that affected several areas throughout Ribera del Duero and La Mancha last year, whereby reducing the production of red grapes by 20% for some bodegas, the quality of the grapes themselves are being reported as outstanding! This decrease in production is also being seen as far east as Utiel Requena and as far west as the Alentejo in Portugal.

On the flipside, Rias Baixes, in northwest corner of Spain, is reporting to have an increase of 10% in their production as opposed to the previous year. According to Wines of Spain, the Regulating Council’s chairman, José Ramón Meiriño, expects “a 10 percent increase in estimated average yields in comparison to the 2007 harvest, which yielded a total of 5,355 kg/ha”. Interestingly, according to their last blog post in early August, Castro Martin didn’t expect the same results “At this moment we are probably about a month away from the start of the 2008 vintage, and (touch wood), it is looking like we might have a similar sized harvest to 2007, albeit that it is much to early to predict how the quality might compare.”

Just south of Rias Baixas, the famous Port producing region, the Douro, is also reporting an increase in production. According the the Oscar Quevedo, “The yield has been higher compared to last years’ production and our estimate for the other vineyards is a productivity of almost 3.5 tns/hectare”.

Despite the highs and lows of production throughout Iberia, there appears to be one resounding message, the quality of 2008 should be incredible!

If you are a winemaker in Spain or Portugal, let us know how your vintage is shaping up! Additionally, check out, and add your reports and photos to, our international 2008 Wine Harvest Flickr group to see the progression of this years harvest!

Cheers,
Gabriella Opaz

  • Dale Cruse

    I always enjoy reading your site, Gabby. You always manage to present wine insights that I feel I might not be otherwise privvy to.

  • Dylan

    "This decrease in production is also being seen as far east as Utiel Requena and as far west as the Alentejo in Portugal" and if you want to country hop, try as far west as California. Sonoma took a similar beating in terms of production due to weather this year, but as you're saying for Spain and Portugal, we're really proud of the quality and turn out for Tin Cross this year.

  • Milton

    Last year we had a serious attack of mildew and some small winemakers didn’t even harvested! But this year things went good, only with a minor problem on some varieties, like the Touriga Nacional, which had problems in the formation and development of the fruit because of the spring rains (“desavinho” e “bagoinha” – I don’t know how it’s called in English…). Anyway it wasn’t that bad because that way I skipped fruit pruning so the loss is minor. I’m not sure about the quality because we had a cooler summer and a wet spring; the veraison is delayed about 2 weeks. It’s certainly a good year but I don’t think it will be a great year. Visit <a href="http://lagar.wordpress.com ” target=”_blank”>http://lagar.wordpress.com ! :)

  • Milton

    Last year we had a serious attack of mildew and some small winemakers didn’t even harvested! But this year things went good, only with a minor problem on some varieties, like the Touriga Nacional, which had problems in the formation and development of the fruit because of the spring rains (“desavinho” e “bagoinha” – I don’t know how it’s called in English…). Anyway it wasn’t that bad because that way I skipped fruit pruning so the loss is minor. I’m not sure about the quality because we had a cooler summer and a wet spring; the veraison is delayed about 2 weeks. It’s certainly a good year but I don’t think it will be a great year. Visit <a href="http://lagar.wordpress.com ” target=”_blank”>http://lagar.wordpress.com ! :)

  • Milton

    Last year we had a serious attack of mildew and some small winemakers didn’t even harvested! But this year things went good, only with a minor problem on some varieties, like the Touriga Nacional, which had problems in the formation and development of the fruit because of the spring rains (“desavinho” e “bagoinha” – I don’t know how it’s called in English…). Anyway it wasn’t that bad because that way I skipped fruit pruning so the loss is minor. I’m not sure about the quality because we had a cooler summer and a wet spring; the veraison is delayed about 2 weeks. It’s certainly a good year but I don’t think it will be a great year. Visit <a href="http://lagar.wordpress.com ” target=”_blank”>http://lagar.wordpress.com ! :)

  • Gabriella Opaz

    Thanks Dale! Although constructive criticism on how we can improve is always welcomed, I'm a bit biased towards the kind and positive comments ;-)

  • Gabriella Opaz

    That is great to hear! If only I could try your wines here in Spain ;-( Well, just another reason why I need to make a trip to California!

  • Gabriella Opaz

    I wish you luck Milton, and we'll be sure to follow your progress on your blog!

  • http://www.honest-food.net Hank

    Interesting — California is in EXACTLY the same boat. We had an unusual late frost that hit the vines and dropped fruit everywhere. But what remained enjoyed the most perfect ripening season in years, and the fruit is in fantastic shape because the frost did the vineyardists' thinning for them…