As temperatures rise across the globe, grape harvesting is taking place earlier in many wine producing regions.
The Douro Valley is not being spared by this trend. On 10th August I was at Quinta do Crasto in the Cima Corgo. Their winemaker, Manuel Lobo de Vasconcelos, told me they had begun picking grapes the same day in their higher altitude vineyards. Early grape harvesting maintains good acidity levels, particularly important for the making of crisp white wines.
The same day – 10th August, Paul Symington, the head of Symington Family Estates, explained to me that their firm would be holding back from harvesting until the end of the month, or even waiting until early September. Later harvesting concentrates the sugar in the grapes, providing more intense flavours.
Although the harvesting policy varies from producer to producer, it is today no longer unusual for harvesting in the Douro to begin in August, in conditions of extreme heat that make it essential to convey the grapes to the winery as fast as possible once they have been picked.