We’ve touched base with our Gonzalez Byass winemakers to share their insight so far on the 2016 vintage. In some Spanish regions, such as Jerez and Penedés the harvest is almost over. In others such as Rioja, it is just beginning.
Jerez – notes from Gonzalez Byass winemaker, Antonio Flores
The 2016 harvest began slightly later than last year and has been more difficult due to unusual weather conditions throughout the year. Winter and early spring were much drier than usual, with unexpected torrential downpours in early May. However it has still been a drier year than usual with roughly 500 litres per square metre of rainfall (the average is usually slightly more than 600 litres). The heavy rainfall experienced late on in the maturation process was followed by hot sunny conditions creating high relative humidity and the perfect conditions for the mildew fungus. However, due to their privileged location in Jerez Superior and the influence of the dry Levante wind, the vineyards of Gonzalez Byass were not affected by this potentially devastating blight. Yield predictions for 2016 are lower than 2015 however it is showing to be a healthy vintage.
The inland location of the Gonzalez Byass vineyards mean that the grapes ripen sooner and the harvest was complete by early September. Part of the harvest took place at night, in cooler temperatures to ensure the grapes arrived at the press in the best possible condition. The grapes were processed in our Las Copas vinification plant where they begin their journey through the solera to become spectacular sherries such as our iconic Tio Pepe Fino.. After the grapes were picked, the traditional Fiesta de Vendimia commenced in Jerez when the well-deserved sherry celebrations commenced.
Rioja – notes from Beronia winemaker, Matías Calleja
The harvest is only just beginning in Rioja but it is believed the 2016 vintage has produced excellent quality fruit. The harvest started on 4th October with our Viura grapes picked first and the Tempranillo is due to be picked over the coming days. This vintage is predicted to produce good volumes of healthy grapes.
Somontano – notes from Viñas del Vero winemaker, José Ferrer
The harvest at Viñas del Vero began on the 24th August this year with Chardonnay from the Salas Baja vineyards, quickly followed by the delicate Pinot Noir from Pago “Las Almunietas”. These early ripening varietals are usually the first to be picked in Somontano, Chardonnay being the most widely planted, white varietal in the region. Our Pinot Noir is extremely delicate and sensitive to weather conditions and, consequently, has a very limited production in the D.O. Somontano.
Jose Ferrer said: “A short vintage in quantity is expected due to weather conditions this year, nevertheless it will be a vintage of exceptional quality.”
The harvesting activities in Viñas del Vero will last until early October, when it will come to a close with the harvest of old-vine Garnacha in Secastilla Valley.
Penedès – notes from Vilarnau director of winemaking, Damia Deas
The earliest to harvest from Gonzalez Byass’ wineries, starting in the early morning of August 16th, with Chardonnay. For three days harvesting was carried out at night to avoid the high daytime temperatures. Pinot Noir was the next to achieve optimum ripeness and Macabeo the final varietal picked.
Generally this has been a low yielding harvest due to the very dry year we have had in the area. We had a very dry winter and only 250ml of rainfall. That being said the grapes are exceptionally healthy and of a very high quality. We hope that the forecast rains will not affect the quality of the Parellada (Penedès Superior) and will give us some more quantity, given that this grape is dependent on its high acidity which is essential for the longevity of our Vilarnau wines.
We are delighted to highlight that 2016 will be our first organic harvest for the fruit from our own vineyards and those of the growers we work with. This means that our Brut Reserva and Brut Rosado will be organic in 2018.
Otero – notes from Finca Constancia winemaker Beatriz Paniagua
Finca Constancia began harvest on the evening of 21st August, with high hopes for an excellent year. During the hot month of August, night harvesting is essential to preserve the quality of the grapes. We began with Moscatel de Grano Menudo, continued with the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and finally Verdejo, the principle white varietal planted at Finca Constancia.
Beatriz Paniagua, Manager and Winemaker at Finca Constancia, comments “For us the harvest is the most exciting time of the year in the winery. It is when we can be most creative and every year we look forward to receiving the freshly picked grapes. Our philosophy is all about respecting what nature gives us each year and ensuring that the wines reflect the true personality of the grapes and the place they come from.”
Prior to the harvest of strict analyses of the phenolic ripeness and tasting of the fruit is essential. Therefore, a random sampling in each of our individual plots is carried out to test density, pH, etc. These tests are designed to measure the quality and ripeness of the grapes which are determined in the laboratory.