AUSTRIA: ‘Austrian winegrowers are looking forward to a good vintage with fully ripe grapes this year. Compared to the big harvest in 2018, an average volume of approximately 2.4 million hectolitres is expected. And after the record-breaking early harvest last year, picking will begin around Lake Neusiedl at the beginning of September. In other regions, the primary harvest will begin in mid-September’, explained Johannes Schmuckenschlager, president of the Austrian Winegrowers’ Association, with regard to 2019.
No late frost damage this year
After a normal budding, late frost damage was avoided once more this year, despite a few anxious nights. In contrast to the previous year, flowering took place about two weeks later – at the normal time. The great heat in June 2019 with record temperatures over 30°C then led to rapid progress of the vegetation. The dry and hot weather conditions also provided the reason why very healthy grape material is available throughout Austria this year, as this dryness worked against the development of any fungal diseases during and after flowering. The very high temperatures around blossoming led, however, in some areas and some vineyards to a poor fruit set.
First drought, then relief
In some regions – for example, in Burgenland and around Krems – the heat brought severe drought stress in June and July. At the end of July, however, the onset of rainfall provided relief in most winegrowing regions. Occasionally there was also heavy precipitation in the form of downpours and thunderstorms, and some hail damage was recorded. At present, the vegetation is progressing quite nicely thanks to the rainfall, which is why one may expect a normal start to the harvest this year.
So how is 2019 looking?
The development of the vegetation cycle in 2019 points to a fully ripe vintage. Due to the arid stretch after flowering in June and July, the berries are on average a bit smaller, which is also an indicator that there will be some very aromatic wines. And because of the postponement of maturity to a normal, slightly cooler period, growers expect high sugar concentration but sufficient acidity as well. 2019 should offer very harmonious and nicely balanced wines.
All in all, it is quite likely that this year’s wines will have finesse and freshness on top of ripeness and opulent texture, because there is plenty of acid backbone to go with the depth of fruit.