With the grape harvest for the 2023 vintage, South Tyrol's winegrowers are finishing a vintage in the vineyard that has demanded everything from them. The year began with an initially extremely dry, then cool and rainy spring, a humid summer with three heat waves, and now a golden autumn. This allows even the later red wine varieties to ripen well. For white wines, experts expect fresh, fruity, and slender wines. "The 2023 vintage was characterized by a weather pattern of extremes," emphasizes Andreas Kofler, chairman of the Kurtatsch cooperative and president of the South Tyrol Wine Consortium.
The wet weather in particular has given winegrowers an enormous amount of work in the vineyard. "The precipitation wasn't extraordinary, but it was always humid," says Barbara Raifer, head of the winegrowing department at the Laimburg Research Center, referring to the associated high fungal pressure. Andreas Kofler attributes the fact that they got away with a black eye to the great experience and the small-scale wine industry in South Tyrol, which makes quick action easier. The most pronounced challenge was the heat stress to which the vines were exposed at temperatures of around and over 35°C (95°F), especially in July.
Difficult yield management
The challenges of the 2023 vintage were not limited to plant protection and irrigation. "Yield management was also difficult because the wet weather during the cell division phase led to large grapes and the yield had to be regulated early, without being able to properly assess how the weather would develop," says Thomas Scarizuola, cellar master of the Kaltern cooperative. The harvest itself was also more demanding this year than usual: "Through hand-picking, it is possible in South Tyrol to select very carefully and only bring good fruit into the cellar," says Markus Prackwieser from the Gump Hof in Völs. "The hard-working and professional farmers have been rewarded this year," he continues. Winemakers agree that the 2023 vintage white wines will be crisp, fresh, fruity, and slender. Elegant, not too powerful wines are expected for the reds.