It is harvest time in many parts of Europe with a mixed picture so we will look at how the weather affects vine growing during the year. Ideally a very cold winter is required as this can kill bugs and disease on the vines, then an early bud burst would be advantageous .Vines grown in dark soils have an advantage here as the soil warms up faster than white chalky soils and cold clay soils . This year we had an early bud burst but this was followed by a sharp frost which if you are limiting the number of buds to increase quality can reduce your crop considerably.
Next in the life cycle of the vine is the flowering, this usually takes place about May June with gentle breezes wafting through the vineyard although this year it rained cats and dogs giving a very uneven flowering and therefore uneven fruit setting.
If it continues to rain all summer the vines will need spraying several times to stop rot and mildew.
The grapes can and will ripen without bright sunshine and will still ripen on overcast days it just takes a bit longer so in many northern areas the harvest will be up to three weeks late.it is not just sunlight on the grapes but sunshine on the leaves that help ripen the grapes
In the southern parts of Europe they have had the opposite problem Too much heat and at high temperatures the vine will just shut down and if the vines do not have canopy management i.e. leaves covering the grapes so that the bunches can become scorched.
There is a balance to be struck which does not seem to have happen in Europe we need rainfall for the vines to grow and the grapes to swell and we need sunlight to ripen the grapes but steadily over the summer to increase the sugars and decrease the acidity. So it will be a mixed year this year with some excellent wines being made but with the quantity lower than in previous years. The one thing we can be certain of is that the price of a bottle of wine will go up.