One common thread from all correspondents: it's clear even now, with the grapes barely arrived in the cellars, that this will be a year of remarkable nuance. All signs point to a crop of 2022s with perfect acidity levels and striking aromatics.
Navigating this vintage, however, was anything but easy for the growers, who experienced a summer filled with sunshine followed by challenging weather conditions, especially during harvest.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: the year started with a warm spring, with no late frost damage and fast-paced vine development in the springtime months. Warm days in May accelerated growth even further, leading to thick canopies and rapid blossoming. Quick and precise vineyard management was required to keep step with nature as she worked her vine magic.
Ripeness moved forward rapidly in the face of enduring dryness and even drought conditions during the summer months. Cool sites with good water supplies found the summer to their liking, while younger vineyards showed signs of stress. As in 2018, the hot summer days led in many regions to a late August start to harvest. Growers engaged in meticulous selection in advance of the main harvest, seeking to reduce yields and achieve the highest quality standards. In many cases, the VDP.ERSTE LAGE® and VDP.GROSSE LAGE® sites were harvested before other vineyards, as their ideal exposures and beneficial interplay between soil and climate encouraged the fruit to mature fast.
At many estates, the enduring heat of the summer months and late rain in autumn turned the harvest period into a race against time. Choosing the right moment to launch harvest was crucial in bringing in optimally ripe fruit without compromising on quality. Unstinting manual labor and precise selection were unavoidable, but our member estates are largely reporting healthy and ripe fruit despite conditions that were at times downright difficult.
"The Ahr Valley was blessed with rain in the early summer months, which together with existing water reserves helped us withstand the worst of the drought. Toward the end of summer, the dryness was certainly noticeable, but nothing compared with what we were hearing from colleagues in other regions. The grapes showed their gratitude for access to water by producing optimally ripe and healthy fruit at harvest. The first young wines are revealing outstanding fruit aromas and sensational freshness, promising plenty of fun."
Ludwig Kreuzberg, VDP.Estate H. J. Kreuzberg
"This past vintage was marked by massive dryness and unceasing labor. We were constantly reminded of the importance of a good, and above all else reliable, source of water for the vines, not to mention the benefits of a healthy soil structure, especially in these extreme years. Our biological cultivation techniques allowed for a layer of humus to deposit on the sites, helping the vines survive the dry periods. Despite crop thinning, harvest volumes remained relatively good compared with the recent low-yield years. This vintage produced unbelievably handsome, ripe, and healthy grapes that promise to become grand wines. The joy we felt during harvest has continued in the cellar — all in all, a terrific vintage."
"Harvest kicked off in early September. The Silvaner and Pinot grapes from VDP.ERSTE LAGE® and VDP.GROSSE LAGE® sites were brought in at record pace to preserve the perfect concentration and freshness in the cellar before the rains set in. Our reward: healthy grapes with perfect pH values, a key factor in the stability of the wines, and alluring aromatics that will later set this vintage apart for its nuance and elegance. Hot years in particular require a deft feel for the right moment to harvest if you have any hope of refined wines of elegance and finesse. The most impressive performers were the stands of old vines planted back in the 80s. While those old timers were perhaps somewhat more difficult to manage throughout the year, they handled the vintage's dry phase surprisingly well. There is a vitality to them that is simply astonishing."
Paul Weltner, VDP.Estate Paul Weltner
"A grand vintage with strong variances between the different varieties. The vigor of Weißburgunder, Grauburgunder, and Spätburgunder required some clusters thinning to reduce yields and concentrate the fruit aromatics. Riesling is entirely different. You notice immediately whether the soils have a good supply of water. Vineyards with reliable access to water achieved outstanding must weights, while drier sites often struggled to achieve similar levels. But whatever the must weights, the grapes all demonstrated notable levels of ripeness and aromatics. It's a year like this one that shows how much green cover helps the vineyards store water and preserves an intact supply of water. The time is now to implement sustainable methods of counteracting dry periods to create grand wines with highly ripe grapes."
Jochen Ratzenberger, VDP.Estate Ratzenberger
"The warm and dry summer certainly left its mark, especially in the younger vine stands, where the drought stress was clearly evident. Sites where the vines are up to 130 years old, and thus have dug down into the deeper layers of earth, had an easier time accessing even deep-set water reserves. The experience of the past 20 years has established that old vine stands can produce fruit of outstanding quality even in the face of difficult weather conditions. Harvest this year only started in late September, yet the wines are already presenting magnificently, and we were even able to harvest grapes for VDP.GROSSES GEWÄCHS® wines, not a given every year on the steep slopes of the Mosel."
Dorothee Zilliken, VDP.Estate Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken
"Plentiful rain in May led to rapid growth during the first half of the year, followed by over three months of extreme drought that did indeed cause concern for the winegrowers along the Nahe. Yield reduction in all sites was seen throughout the region to set the stage as optimally as possible for the grapes. Despite the challenges, it was a very good year for the Pinot varieties, with outstanding must weights and volumes. The Riesling harvest, in some cases still underway, has been a bit touch-and-go due to rain, but here too meticulous selection and plentiful manual labor have helped ensure excellent quality."
Rebecca Crusius, VDP.Estate Dr. Crusius
"The highs and lows of this year's vintage could be clearly seen in the vineyards. Cool sites near the mountains and with a good water supply fared well against the enduring heat. Grapes on sandy soil, by contrast, matured earlier and more quickly. With that said, the Südpfalz was fortunately spared from the enduring drought. It was for example an outstanding year for Pinot varieties, which came to the cellar in outstanding quality. The rains of September have raised the threat of Botrytis in Riesling, although the meticulous selection work by the harvest team promises top quality here as well. All in all, the vintage certainly looks like a promising one."
Franz Wehrheim, VDP.Estate Dr. Wehrheim
"The heat of summer dictated that the harvest of Pinot grapes for the sekt base wine would come earlier than normal, but otherwise conditions looked ideal as late August arrived. Despite the paucity of precipitation, the deep soils ensured respectable harvest volumes. The sekt base wine harvest was conducted under plentiful sunshine and dry weather; the still wines by contrast were picked under cooler and rainier conditions. Grape maturation clearly began to slow, necessitating meticulous selection to bring healthy grapes to the presses. Despite the difficult conditions, the ripe and healthy grapes keep us optimistic for the coming vintage."
Mark Barth, VDP.Estate Barth
"Harvest time is an emotional roller coaster. The late summer heat encouraged early ripening in the Pinot varieties, and necessitated a fast harvest in some cases. The Riesling harvest required nothing less than strong nerves. Rain in early autumn delayed ripening and heightened the risk of Botrytis. On the whole, the vintage persevered through the capricious weather conditions, delivering promising wines with the right balance of outstanding fruit, moderate acidity, and somewhat lower alcohol volumes."
Philipp Wittmann, VDP.Estate Wittmann
"The timely development of the vines, boosted by the lack of late frosts and an early bud break, led to a late August start to harvest, the earliest at Weingut Schloss Proschwitz since 1990.
What will remain from the 2022 vintage is the unforgettable and extreme dryness from late May through mid-August. Thankfully, when the rain finally did arrive, it was still in time for most of the vines. Precipitation notably stabilized the acidity and pH values, while organic cultivation helped compensate and reduce heat damage and drought stress symptoms.
The selective harvest, conducted by some in multiple passes, successfully brought in healthy and ripe grapes. The first young wines have presented as varietally typical, with a delightful fruit expression suggesting a high-quality, cellarable 2022 vintage."
Björn Probst, VDP.Estate Schloss Proschwitz
"People counted on many things this year, first and foremost overly high must weights. The enduring heat of the 2022 vintage could be very effectively counteracted through a variety of measures in the vineyards. Württemberg growers ultimately handled the drought and warmth of this vintage quite well, with few lasting negative effects. Volumes were good, the quality of the grapes highly balanced. The coming vintage promises tremendous elegance and finesse, to our great delight. Despite the many hurdles that this year offered us, everything ultimately ended up well."
Felix Ellwanger, VDP.Estate Jürgen Ellwanger
Fotos: Peter Bender