Another year in a state of crisis is drawing to a close. A memorable vintage 2021 marked by emotions.
The weather brought many challenges during the growing season of the year. In addition to late frosts in spring and a summer with little sunshine and above-average rainfall, some winemakers also had to contend with the devastating effects of the flood disaster in the Ahr Valley. This year's harvest and the entire year 2021 will be remembered for a long time.
Compared to the three previous years, a delayed budbreak was observed this year due to the cool spring, which also resulted in a later flowering of the vines. The warm and humid weather in summer not only led to an enormous growth spurt of the canopy, but at the same time also increased the infection pressure from the fungal diseases Oidium and Peronospora. In order to counteract the fungal pressure, a labor-intensive period of plant protection began for the winegrowers, which presented organic working wineries in particular with sometimes great, but not insurmountable challenges. Precision, manual labor and many extra hours of detailed work steps were necessary to avoid major losses. Due to the late budding and the associated late harvest, it was possible to harvest the grapes carefully and selectively, especially in the VDP.GROSSE LAGE® and VDP.ERSTE LAGE® classification levels, in order to harvest the grapes at the optimum time for ripening and, above all, in good health. Drought and lower temperatures not only led to a relatively long harvest period, but also to must weights that were significantly below the previous year's values.
Origin is the top priority for VDP members, but the best vineyard alone is no guarantee of a top product. Only the perfect interaction of accurate manual work, sound expertise, intuition, many years of experience, constant curiosity, healthy ambition, almost limitless perseverance and a lot of patience makes the best results possible this year.
Emotional and dramatic vintage
"The 2021 vintage is the most dramatic and emotional we have ever had. The relief after the last grape has been picked is immeasurable. Without the solidarity, help and support of so many, we would not have managed all this. This has given us courage and strength to persevere. We are still at a loss for words and hardly know how to express our gratitude. Giving up was never an option for us. This is our home. We are rooted in the Ahr Valley for generations, so we are rebuilding everything and taking the opportunity to think things through in a new way. We are endlessly grateful for an insanely great team. Most of the employees have themselves been hit hard by the flood disaster and have had terrible days and weeks. But no one is giving up and everyone is walking the rocky road to the future together with us."
Meike Näkel, VDP.Weingut Meyer-Näkel
Local late frosts and labor-intensive vineyard work
The 2021 wine year will also be remembered by the winegrowers of the VDP Baden as a very busy one. Due to the wet weather in spring and summer, the wineries always had to be quick with all work steps in order to keep up with the rapid growth of the foliage. Local late frosts after budbreak reduced yields early in the year. Grape ripening was slowed somewhat by the cooler nights of summer, and so the start of harvest was somewhat later than in recent years. Through a consistently selective harvest of the grapes, the young wines now show themselves everywhere animating, fresh and pleasantly fruity with a clear and precise expression. The biggest downer of the vintage will certainly remain the overall low harvest volume of about 40-60% compared to previous years, but this already makes the wines real rarities.
"The 2021 growing year was essentially the same as the rest of the year as a whole, and the grape harvest was once again a major challenge for the harvesting teams at the individual wineries. It took decision-making courage, a lot of diligence, patience and perseverance to bring in the small harvest perfectly. Our wineries succeeded in this despite all adversities."
Joachim Heger, VDP.Weingut Dr. Heger
Once again a "Cool Climate vintage"
"After an unprecedented growing season with heavy rains and a conciliatory late summer, most Franconian VDP.wineries were able to start harvesting from mid-September. Without much pressure, we were able to store the VDP.GUTSWEINE and VDP.ORTSWEINE with a fresh and fine aroma. Physiological ripeness was achieved without sugar ripeness going through the roof. The cool nights were good for the fine fruity nature, the acidity is somewhat increased from today's point of view, but this in a positive sense! Just like in the past.
In October, the site wines from the Burgundy, Silvaner and Riesling vineyards could then be harvested nicely in turn. The Maindreieck had a small ripening advantage. Thanks to the good and calm autumn weather, the harvest was caught up in all areas with very good results. The volume losses are serious in some areas, which is why the 2021 has become an "envious autumn". However, the wine quality is very good to outstanding and the wines are already showing brilliance and punch."
Robert Haller vom VDP.Weingut Bürgerspital zum hl. Geist
Volatile year ends with golden autumn
"We are overjoyed that our grapes were able to experience an almost golden September and October after a year of inconsistent weather. Our Riesling vineyards almost all experienced two harvesting passes; this allowed most of the grapes to ripen further in mild temperatures and, above all, to gain in aroma. The quantity of the 2021 vintage is about average, which makes us very happy. What makes us really happy is the quality: with an insane aromatic potential, great must weights and a present acidity, we can hope for a fantastic 2021 vintage!"
Christoph Müller, VDP.Weingut Matthias Müller
Diverse terroirs along the Mosel, Saar and Ruwer required a distinctive wealth of experience in the 2021 wine year
"The weather and the corresponding challenges for our winegrowers were also very different in the 2021 wine year. All wineries report low yields, 20-30% below the long-term average. On the Middle Mosel, there are farms that were able to harvest all predicates up to TBA. From the Saar, one hears of an abundance of wines full of character that are bottled as VDP.GROSSES GEWÄCHS® and of excellent Kabinett and Spätlese wines. The wineries of the lower Mosel and the Terrassenmosel are pleased with full-bodied musts and wines with a lot of potential for GGs and higher Prädikats. All members report animating, fresh acidity that will give the wines great longevity. Clemens Busch from Pünderich told me, "The musts are shining, it's fun to go to the barrel!"
Dr. Carl von Schubert, VDP.Weingut Maximin Grünhaus
Hope for ice wine from the Nahe
"The grape harvest on the Nahe has been essentially completed in the first week of November. The long wait was worth it this year. The Rieslings often reached their aromatic maturity only in the second half of October with very good health of the grapes. The quantities harvested varied greatly, from normal to little. Burgundy varieties also produced very good results. Some of our members on the Nahe have earmarked a small portion of their Riesling grapes for the production of ice wine."
Frank Schönleber, VDP.Weingut Emrich-Schönleber
Strong regional differences in weather conditions - multi-faceted, long-lived wines
"It is difficult to make a general statement for all wineries, the local weather conditions were too different. This has led in many cases to greater yield losses - especially at the organically working wineries, but has not affected the quality and character of the vintage. Here we expect fine, elegant, long-lived wines. A "cool vintage" that wine fans around the world will continue to enjoy for a very long time!"
Hansjörg Rebholz, VDP.Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz
Rheingau & Hessische Bergstraße
Classic "Cool Climate" vintage
"The Rheingau was largely spared the extreme weather conditions that occurred this year. Nevertheless, we also had very high precipitation in the Rheingau over the spring and summer, which required a particularly watchful eye in order to be able to take appropriate plant protection measures early enough. Due to the very good supply of the vines with all nutrients over the vegetation and an average harvest quantity that did not overtax the vines, we obtained very good extract values and full-bodied wines."
Jochen Becker-Köhn, VDP.Weingut Robert Weil
Labor intensive but gracious vintage
"Looking back, we can say with satisfaction that we were able to harvest a very gracious vintage in 2021. In the summer, we would probably have signed everything had we known what fascinating and characterful wines awaited us at the end of the year as a reward for the sacrificial vineyard work. The weather conditions during the season challenged winemakers, employees, machinery and nature to and sometimes beyond their limits. I am convinced that the wines obtained from this year will still shine full of energy and youthful aromatics even when the efforts and the hard road to a successful harvest have long been forgotten. Full of humility towards nature, we think of our colleagues at the Ahr, who will not manage this "forgetting" so easily."
Johannes Hasselbach, VDP.Weingut Gunderloch
A really challenging year with ultimately exciting wines
"The 2021 wine year was characterized by an extremely cold spring, which led to very late budbreak in Saxony. Due to frequent and abundant rainfall in combination with moderate temperatures, the vines experienced "turbo growth" as the year progressed. Through targeted and intensive work on the vines and moderate thinning of the berries, we were able to harvest healthy grapes from September onwards through selective, partly staggered harvesting. 2021- a truly challenging year with extremely exciting wines!"
Björn Probst, VDP.Weingut Schloss Proschwitz
A vintage like the old days
"After the year already started very tough and exhausting with late frosts, the loss of some eyes showed that a labor-intensive and demanding growing season was ahead. To compensate for the loss of the frost-bitten eyes, two generations of shoots were sometimes tied on top of each other, resulting in different growth and maturity dates later in the year. The rainy summer posed a particular challenge for organic working wineries due to high fungal infection pressure, but was ultimately well managed.
During the late harvest, which reminds us of the 2014 vintage, intensive preselection had to be carried out at many wineries.
The wines are already more reminiscent of a "classic" vintage of the past."
Moritz Haidle, VDP.Weingut Karl Haidle
Fotos: Peter Bender