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Lusa - Business News - Portugal: Douro winegrowers prepare for uncertain harvest




Sabrosa, Portugal, Aug. 5,2022 (Lusa) - Douro winegrowers are preparing a harvest "of uncertainties" because of drought and intense heat that will cause a drop in production, culminating in a "challenging year", also due to the increase in prices and the lack of raw materials.
"A very, very challenging year. We came out of a pandemic, then we have the problem of war [Ukraine] and, currently, the problem of drought which is what is doing us the most damage," Abraão Nóbrega, a wine grower in Souto Maior, municipality of Sabrosa, told Lusa on Friday.
In the Douro, there was a "good start", with many bunches on the vines and, in terms of health, the year also went well, with few diseases. But 2022 was marked by the lack of water, and the intense heat felt in July and now at the beginning of August.
Abraão Nóbrega described a vineyard where the "grapes didn't develop, in which the berries are changing colour, but have stopped growing". The grapes have become "crumbly". "And it's still early August. From now until the harvest, if it doesn't rain, it's going to be a very difficult year in terms of production", he said, forecasting a drop of "more than 30%".
But, he pointed out, the problem may also extend to next year because "there are vines that are very poorly and may dry out".
The difficulties are being felt in the vineyards and the olive groves. "The olives are also falling", added Abraão Nóbrega, who, at the age of 62, cannot remember a year like this.
This is also the year in which "everything has increased", from fuel to phytopharmaceutical products, fertilisers and the price of energy.
"Production is down, quality is down, and then, with the products that have increased, it's not easy being a farmer", he says. The eyes of farmers are glued to the sky, waiting for the "miracle of rain", but the forecasts are not encouraging. Manuel Vilela, a winegrower with 12.5 hectares in Cheires, Alijó, has used sunscreen on the vines (kaolin) and has even used the tractor's sprayer to spray water on the vines, but he has not managed to solve the problem.
"I have completely dry vines, the winter was harsh in the sense that it did not rain, the soil did not store water, the grapes have reached a point where they are stagnant, they do not develop," he pointed out. In his opinion, this is a year to "take note and be warned".
Manuel Vilela said the winegrowers "are in a desperate struggle" that will continue until the harvest. "It's going to be miserable, the grapes won't weigh a thing. But what worries me is not the grapes. It's the plant itself that is being defeated", he said.
Celeste Marques, from the Adega Cooperativa de Sabrosa, also spoke of a "challenging" year which will culminate with a "vintage of uncertainties", both "in quantity and quality".
"We were recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, then came the war and the increase in prices, the lack of materials such as bottles and labels," he pointed out, mentioning that in recent weeks, some of the members of this cooperative have reported situations of scalding (in which the berry gets burnt) due to the heat.
The Instituto da Vinha e do Vinho (IVV) predicts that wine production in Portugal will fall by around 9% compared to the previous campaign, with a drop of 20% expected in the Douro Demarcated Region.
José Alexandre Carvalho, from the Sabrosa delegation of the Trás-os-Montes Farmers Association, points to "a very sharp drop in production" and calls for measures such as the possibility of irrigation, now only allowed in extreme situations and with the authorisation of the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP), warnings for the application of sunscreen, as well as financial aid for the drop in production due to drought. "We are on the verge of a social drama. If a farmer doesn't get the money for grapes, he won't get treatments, he won't buy products to apply to the vines. All this will contribute to a lot of poverty here in the Douro", he pointed out, stressing that the impact will be felt more among medium and small producers.
There are also winegrowers in the region who are afraid of not having enough production to comply with the benefit, i.e., the amount of must they can transform into Port wine, and therefore, José Alexandre Carvalho argued, in these cases, that there could be a transfer of this "credit" to next year.
This harvest, the Douro Demarcated Region will transform a total of 116,000 barrels of must into Port wine, 12,000 more than the previous year.
At the Sabrosa winery, preparations are being finalised for the start of the harvest, which will begin after the maturity tests on the vines, but, according to Celeste Marques, solar panels are also being installed at this cooperative to cover energy costs, and new ways of saving water are being introduced.
Later, during the harvest, there will be other difficulties for Douro producers, namely the increase in the price of brandy used to produce Port and the lack of manpower to cut the grapes.
PLI/ADB // ADB.
Lusa


Agency : LUSA

Date : 2022-08-06 09:51:00







 

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