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Argentina’s grape harvest might be at a record-setting low this year. The country’s National Institute of Viticulture estimates a 21% decrease in production from last year, while some local producers have lost more than 50% of their grapes.
Over the last 12 years, the average grape harvest has been around 5.1 billion pounds. But as of March 26, reports from the National Institute of Viticulture showed that about 2.6 billion pounds of grapes had been harvested. The same government organization estimated that a total of 3.3 billion pounds will be picked by the end of the harvest, which is only a few weeks away. If that is the case, this year will make the smallest harvest ever registered in Argentina since 1960.
Winemakers explain the causes and the aftermath of this disadvantageous scenario, in which they say costs and stocks of wine will be impacted.
The Causes of a Record-Low Harvest
A few factors contributed to this decrease in grape harvest. Marcelo Belmonte, wine director at Bodega Trapiche, says that the late spring frost during 2022 had the greatest impact. On October 31, and November 1, a polar cold front dropped temperatures to 23–26℉.
“This frost affected the vines when they were in an advanced growing stage, not allowing the plant to grow secondary and tertiary buds,” says Belmonte. “Even in vines with no visible physical damage the flower clusters were affected and produced smaller and lighter grape bunches.”
Vines also had less access to water for irrigation due to low snow accumulation in the Andes Mountains that feed the rivers and other freshwater sources. “Less access to water influenced the weight of the grape bunches,” says Belmonte. In other words, when vines don’t receive enough water, the berries are smaller, resulting in less wine.