Harvest Report

2021

2021 was a mild year in terms of temperature and had an atypical rainfall distribution in June and September, but overall good in terms of production and quality of the grapes.

White wines are excellent, full of freshness and intense fruit. Red wines are also very good until the last rains of September, being more elegant and fresher than in previous years. At the end of the harvest, we had red wines with less concentration, but still with quite a good average quality.

Precipitation

Although November 2020 was not very rainy compared to the average, the following winter months were normal in terms of precipitation. February had a lot of rain, allowing for a spring start with water in the soil.

Although spring 2021 was classified by IPMA, for mainland Portugal, as very hot and very dry, in the Douro there was no significant difference from the 30-year average. Spring precipitation was concentrated in April, and May was quite dry.

In June, there was great climatic instability, with thunderstorms, hail, and strong winds, resulting in a great heterogeneity in precipitation between the different sub-regions. Thus, while there was higher precipitation in Régua (+70%) and in the upper Douro (+53%), compared to the historical value, the same was not observed for example in Cima Corgo, where it rained -41%.

In July and August were dry,  but September,  the "great" month of harvest began with rain: 19.6mm in Régua and 14.8 mm in the Douro Superior between the 1st and 2nd days of the month, giving the motto for a month of climate instability, with small rainfall between the 7th and 9th, followed by more intense rainfall on the 13th and 14th:  21.35 mm in Régua and 64.8 mm in  Douro Superior. By then we had almost completed the harvest at Quinta do Orgal (Douro Superior). With good periods of sunshine in the interval, rain fell again in the 23rd and 25th - 17.85 mm in Régua and 29 mm in the Douro Superior.

Temperature

The temperature in winter was above average, especially February in the Douro Superior, 2.6ºC above average. In March, the temperature was normal and during Spring the average temperatures were even lower than in 2019 and 2020. June supported the trend, with milder temperatures, which followed on to July. Although in August the temperatures increased (as usual for the season), there were no heat peaks with negative impact on the vineyards, namely generalized scalding. September also recorded an average temperature that was lower than in recent years and below average.

Evolution of the vineyard

In this climatic context, there was an advance in budding of 1 to 2 weeks, but this advance decreased until the closing of the bunches, largely due to a rainy and cool month of June. However, with the hot and very dry weather of July and August, but still with some water in the soil, there was again an advance of the cycle in relation to normal.

If the production expectation in 2021 was already good, the harvest data confirmed it and exceeded the initial forecasts; although there was loss in some plots in the region, as flowering occurred with rain, or the vigor was excessive as a result of spring conditions. In general, the number of bunches was normal, but these were larger, with the berries having a slightly higher weight than in recent years. As for diseases in the vineyard, the main concern was the control of late mildew, which required surveillance until the painter, but generally, grapes were very healthy until the harvest stage.

The harvest began on the 8th of August in Régua with the Moscatel plots and 25th of August in the Douro Superior with the reds.

Overall, in the region, the impact of rain on the quality of the grapes was significant: the bunches were already large and heavy, and this aggravated the possibility of rot and some dilution, with low sugar content and high acidity. However, at Quinta do Vallado we can say that the harvest was frankly good! In Orgal and vineyards of the Douro Superior, we started the harvest very early and had harvested more than 90% before the peak of rain on the 13th and 14th of September, with very balanced grapes and in excellent sanitary condition. In Régua, the harvest was longer, and we had to accommodate the periods of rain, even though all the portions of old vineyards were harvested beforehand.

The good viticulture work and the selection of grapes carried out at harvest and in the winery, allowed for the reception of grapes in good health; on the other hand, constant attention to weather forecast data and maturation control data have always allowed each parcel to be harvested at the right time and, thus, being able to produce excellent wines!

Depending on locations, there was a production increase of 25 to 50% compared to the previous year.

João Ferreira Alvares Ribeiro

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