Conegliano Valdobbiadene: the first “Unesco Vintage” promises high quality
The heroic vintage in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Prosecco Hills of Conegliano Valdobbiadene has lived up to the expectations of the pre-harvest analyses. The first harvest following UNESCO recognition has brought grapes into the wineries with ideal acidity and pH for obtaining excellent finished wines.
A really exceptional harvest, from a quality point of view, for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. has just come to an end. The 2019 harvest, the first after receiving the new recognition from UNESCO, began about ten days later than in recent years, thus reverting to a more traditional period for picking. The grapes were of excellent quality, as was already evident from the pre-harvest analyses carried out by the technicians of the Producers’ Consortium.
Harvesting took place in ideal climatic conditions. The weather in spring and summer was similarly perfect, ensuring that the grapes attained optimum ripeness. The weather conditions during the year conditioned when the harvest took place, but also the organoleptic characteristics of the fruit. We registered an average pH of 3.30 (3.26 in 2018) and acidity of 6.55 (5.92 in 2018), values that are particularly favourable for the production of sparkling wines like Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G..
“This month we have just spent on the Rive and between the vine rows has been one of intense work; for us vine-growers this is the most important time of the year. The outstanding quality of the 2019 harvest rewards us for the fatigue of the entire year, consisting of difficulties and dedication but also of successes that have resonated around the world: starting off with the accolade from UNESCO, but also including the fiftieth anniversary of the Denomination and our ban on glyphosate, which has made us the largest wine zone in Europe to forbid the use of this well-known herbicide,” states Innocente Nardi, President of the Producers’ Consortium for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco.
As regards the quantity of grapes that have been harvested, there is a reduction of 3- 5% compared to last year due to hailstorms, which brought yields back to the average of the years preceding 2018.
After a rather cold winter, which saw temperatures in line with the norm for the time of year, the zone suffered a spring that was cooler and rainier than usual, causing a delay in budbreak and then also in all the other phenological stages of the vines. This was followed by a summer with typically hot temperatures, which partly allowed the vines to catch up on the phenological development that had been lost back in May. Moreover, the weather remained clement during the period of the harvest, allowing growers to deliver particularly healthy grapes to the wineries.
Given the characteristics of the region, whose salient features include very steep slopes and hilly terrain that is difficult to access with machinery, in Conegliano Valdobbiadene 600-700 hours of manual work are necessary per hectare each year, compared to an average of 150-200 hours on the plain, where mechanization is much more common. As a result, our heroic harvest represents the period when the growers in the region must demonstrate the most ingenuity.
The harvest – as forecast and as usual – involved first of all the most easterly zone and the slopes with the most exposure to sunlight, like those at San Pietro di Feletto. This was followed by the more central zone of the Denomination (Refrontolo, Pieve di Soligo, Col San Martino and also the premium-quality Cartizze area) and finally that of Valdobbiadene.