THE CHALLENGE OF THE 2017 HARVEST IN RIOJA ALAVESA
The weather inclemencies of 2017, especially the widespread low temperatures in April throughout Europe, have caused substantial damage to vineyards. The Rioja Alavesa region has not been spared, and the frigid temperatures on the night of the 28th of April 2017 covered a significant portion of vines in frost.
The frost spread unevenly, with different effects on different plots and even on different vines, some of which had frosted-covered buds while others did not. So some bunches of grapes survived the frost and new ones emerged after the bout of frost. As a result, the same plant may have bunches with a ripening difference between them of 15 to 20 days on tasting, although the difference may not be visible to the eye during the harvest.
Araex Grands winegrowers, determined to maintain the quality of our wines and, accordingly, the confidence of our customers, have raised our selection standards. For example, in the Luis Cañas and Amaren wineries, bunches have been selectively thinned, and we have used red clamps to identify bunches in the vineyard that emerged after the frost in a second budding. This system will enable us to harvest each bunch at the optimal time of ripeness. First we will harvest the ripened grapes, and go back to the vineyard later to gather the bunches bearing the red clamp. This will compel us to sacrifice quantity for quality, in a winery with yearly production levels that already fall far short of the levels allowed by the DOCA Rioja Governing Council. Our aim is to achieve the utmost expressiveness and quality in our wine.
This hard work in the vineyard will be beneficial in helping us ensure the excellence of our wines in the 2017 vintage. And, of course, once the grapes enter the winery, we will continue to apply our dual selection of bunches and grains prior to the start of fermentation.
First flowering (on left), second flowering (on right of the vine)
Green Prunning: damaged bunch removal
Labelling of second flowering bunches with a red mark