Harvest time is probably the most exciting time for the VDP.estates. While some are still busy picking grapes, others have already completed their harvest.
In the hustle and bustle of the grape harvest, some of our VDP.winegrowers told us on the phone about the special circumstances and characteristics of the 2020 vintage.
Fritz Groebe of the VDP.Estate K.F. Groebe in Rheinhessen tells us about healthy grapes with almost perfect sugar content. Although the average annual harvest is smaller, it is higher than in 2019.
First, the winery started with the harvest of the Pinot grape varieties, which, unusually, merged seamlessly with the Riesling harvest. Fritz is enthusiastic about the musts: "Especially the musts of our Rieslings already have a great aroma".
Luckily the grapes have not suffered any damage from this years dryness. During harvest Fritz Groebe was even happy about it as they were able to pick grapes without any weather-related breaks. A particularly interesting consequence of the dryness is that the maturity of the grapes from the AULERDE VDP.GROSSE LAGE® is behind the maturity of the grapes from the KIRCHSPIEL VDP.GROSSE LAGE®. Normally the opposite is the case. Fritz Groebe estimates that this is due to the soil: "The clay marl with limestone inclusions in the KIRCHSPIEL provides the vines with a better water supply, which is important for the increase in sugar. Another factor could be the size of the grapes, which in KIRCHSPIEL was much smaller than in AULERDE". This is a sign that every vintage has its own special characteristics - and so will be 2020.
Already on August 21st, the grape harvest at the VDP.Estate Michel started at hot temperatures and due to the special situation this year with a lot of distance between the harvesters. During the entire grape harvest there were only two rainy days in southern Baden. This meant bright sunshine for the harvesting team, but at the same time it required good cooling management of the picked grapes and a sense for keeping the increase in sugar within limits. Even if the 2020 vintage is somewhat smaller in terms of volume than in previous years, Robin Michel is pleased with the first-class grape material.
Rebecca Crusius from the VDP.Estate Dr. Crusius on the Nahe River tells us about unusually high temperatures. In order to avoid the midday heat, the harvest day in Traisen starts in the early, somewhat cooler morning hours."The grapes hang beautifully and healthy on the vine and despite many hours of sunshine they have hardly suffered from sunburn, even though the dryness of the leaves is clearly visible.“
Now that we have completed the intensive harvest of Pinot grape varieties, the next step is picking our Riesling grapes. Whether the conditions for the Riesling harvest will be as ideal as for the Pinots will be decided in the next few days. A little rain would be easily bearable - a lot of rain would affect the perfectly healthy grapes, but would enable the production of noble sweet wines."
At the end of August, the harvest of the grapes for sparkling wine started at the VDP.Estate Kranz in the Palatinate. "The early harvest was ideal to give the future sparkling wine a nice lightness and crisp acidity," said Boris Kranz. Since the sugar levels did not increase at first due to the dryness, a short break was then taken. However, this fact changed within a few days when the perfect ripeness suddenly began to appear in many vineyards at the same time. "Fortunately we were able to react very quickly and started the main harvest at full throttle.
Within a very short time we harvested almost all our vineyards. Only a small part of our KALMIT VDP.GROSSEN LAGE® as well as some Riesling grapes for sweet wines are now still hanging on the vine. In the cellar the musts are fermenting diligently and already now they present themselves with a lot of tension due to their extraordinary minerality and acidity."
As every year, a vintage can be judged from two points of view - the wine consumer and the wine producer. After the first week of harvest Reinhard Löwenstein from the VDP.Estate Heymann-Löwenstein on the Terassenmosel told us: "Assuming I would buy wine from us, I would be happy about the wines from 2020, because the musts already present them fantastically on the palate. From my personal point of view, there are a few things that make me think. One is the extreme dryness for the third year in a row. On the other hand, this year we need a lot of helping hands to select grapes damaged by sunburn, for example. In the end, however, the result makes us more than happy."
Photos: Peter Bender