Drought and extreme heat may impact Italian wine production

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Many people turn to wine during those extremely stressful moments — but that supply may be taking a hit! Italy’s grape harvest is off to its earliest start in a decade, due to soaring temperatures and months of drought.

That’s causing a bit of a drop in production, but wine experts say it’s not all sour grapes.

A summer heat wave forecasters have nicknamed “Lucifer” is bearing down on Italy and bedeviling grape farmers.

They’ve jump-started this year’s harvest an average of 10-days early, and production is taking a hit.

A spokesman from Italy’s agriculture lobby said, “The high temperatures have created a drastic decline in production of about 10 to 15 percent.” Violent hailstorms and spring frosts also hurt some of the grapes.

Italy’s annual wine harvest is the biggest in the world, and the industry employs about 1.5 million people.

But despite the heat wave, wine makers still see the glass as half-full. The quantity may not be there, but it could be a very good year in terms of quality

That’s because excessive heat has prevented fungus and disease from spreading on the vines. Some Italian towns also had occasional rain before the hot weather,  leading to more concentrated sugar levels in the grapes.

“With the technology they have now for wine-making and cooling down grapes, when they make wine and things like that, it’s a lot easier to manipulate really (tighten) and not suffer a bad harvest,” explained Roger Brown of Majestic Wines.

Last year, Italy produced about 1.5-billion gallons of wine with sales hitting 12-billion dollars.

Italy’s agricultural lobby predicts the country will still be the world’s biggest producer of wine because rivals France and Spain have also had bad weather.

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