Major Drought Concerns in Italy

The south of Italy has experience of dry conditions, but drought is a frightening novelty in the north of the country. The Alps has had 53% less snow and the Po Valley 61% less rain. Grapes need water.

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Drought in Italy (Photo: Sebastian/
Drought in Italy (Photo: Sebastian/

Lake Garda, Italy's largest lake, also has a historic low water level and visitors can now reach its island of San Biagio on foot instead of by boat. Water reserves are desperately low after 2022, Italy's hottest year since 1800.

"The drought worries us, and across all sites. There is no snow in the mountains, not even in Switzerland, where Ticino producers are also worried. This certainly results in a complicated season. It is of course too early to give a clear and precise assessment of the situation, but the conditions are anything but encouraging," explains Pierangelo Tommasi, managing director of Tommasi Family Estates. The family’s vineyards are located in Valpolicella, in the DOC Lugana, in Lombardy, in Puglia, Basilicata, Etna and also in Tuscany.

Critical situation in Piedmont

In Piedmont, the situation is becoming critical. "The drought is a huge problem and we are very worried because it is not the only stress for the vines. It has been going on for two or three years. In 2021 we lost the young plants because of the heavy late frost, in 2022 the surviving vines produced less because of the previous frost damage and then there was the big heat, however this was alleviated in August thanks to a week of rain. We are now loosening the soil, separating the small root spurs that are more on the surface of the soils so that the vines seek water further down," explains winemaker Giuseppino Anfossi, who owns the Ghiomo winery in Guarene near Alba.

"We have just finished pruning the vines. The wood is so dry and hard it’s frightening. The water reserves have dwindled to a minimum and the little bit of rain or snow that has fallen in the last few weeks has done nothing. If the situation doesn't change, I really don't know what we can expect. It is an unprecedented, extreme situation that is palpable," Antonio Deltetto from the eponymous winery in Canale explained to the daily La Stampa.

Prosecco vine nursery 

The Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG consortium is in the process of setting up a vine nursery with selected vine material, also to prepare itself for the increasing impacts of climate change. "We have found that vines that are over 40, 50 years old are much more resistant to drought and also diseases. That's why we now offer our members to provide us with the wood of healthy, old vines after pruning, from which we can produce cuttings," informs Diego Tomasi, director of the consortium and vine researcher.

According to experts, Italy needs a good month of rain so that agriculture can return to normal production conditions in spring and summer. VC




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