Record late harvest for grapes due to longer Maltese winter

Winemaker Marsovin says prolonged cooler than normal temperatures in the first half of the year led to a very late grape harvest and a lower yield

Marsovin has recorded its latest grape harvest ever
Marsovin has recorded its latest grape harvest ever

Grape harvesting came late this year after cooler than expected temperatures in the first six months delayed the emergence of buds, a leading wine maker reports.

Marsovin has registered the latest grape harvest on record, according to company CEO, Jeremy Cassar.

Bud-bursting normally happens in spring as vines come out of the winter slumber and produce green leaves and start to flower. However, the cooler temperatures that lasted until the start of June delayed this process.

Cassar said yields were expected to be 20% lower than those of last year, with the two indigenous grape varieties – Ġellewża and Girgentina – experiencing a 50% drop as a result of an outbreak of Downey mildew in May.

He said grapes that ripen early such as Chardonnay, experienced a two-week delay in harvest, while others like Cabernet Sauvignon experienced a one-week delay.

“The delay remained consistent all the way to the grape harvest, making this year’s harvesting the latest ever recorded by the Marsovin Winery,” he said.

Grapes that ripen late have to left on the vine for longer
Grapes that ripen late have to left on the vine for longer

Cassar said grapes that ripen late, mostly of the red varieties, will have to be left even longer on the vine to reach good levels of maturity.

“The lower temperatures, shorter days and high humidity experienced in September will slow down grape maturity even more. At this point extra care to maintain the vines with adequate ventilation is of paramount importance in order to prevent any fungal diseases to grow,” Cassar said.

The impact of disease on the indigenous varieties has rekindled calls for more vineyards to be planted with these vines.

Cassar said there was increased market demand for the Girgentina and Ġellewża varieties, which could not be sustained due to shortages.

“This year’s situation emphasises Marsovin’s constant cry to plant more of our indigenous grape varieties, which year on year continue to suffer decline in yields. Having an adequate number of indigenous vines planted will be able to make up for and minimise the negative effect that shortages of these varieties bring along due to droughts and other diseases as seen in recent years,” Cassar said.

Good year for wines

The winemaker said that initial indications from crops brought to the winery for crushing showed that the grape flavour concentration point to another good year for wines.

“Hopefully, it will be at par with 2018, which is considered as one of the best years ever for Marsovin’s red wines,” Cassar added.