The Loire Valley is preparing for a reasonable harvest this year, with yield volumes around the regional norm. Picking is due to begin later than in recent years, when harvests have started unusually early. The weather will ultimately be the deciding factor, but at the moment, the Loire Valley is looking forward to a promising vintage.

Later than in Previous Years
The first harvests are starting rather later than in recent years, when harvest season kicked off particularly early. First to start picking were the sparkling wine grapes, on September 19th. White varietals such as Melon de Bourgogne and Sauvignon are next in line, due around September 26th; the reds can expect to wait until sometime during the first two weeks in October.

Yields higher than 2012
Fruit set was generally good – although some varietals suffered in the cold, wet conditions around the time of flowering – and yields should be higher this year than in 2012. It is estimated that harvests will reach just over 2 million hectolitres in 2013; the figure for last year was 1.5 million. 2013 should, therefore, signal a return to classic/normal harvest volumes.

A Promising Vintage
Overall, the vines are in good health. Weather conditions over the next few weeks will play a key role in dictating the quality of the grapes: if the next few weeks are sunny, the harvest is set to be very promising indeed.

The Vineyards A Year among the Vines

Joël Forgeau, President, AOC Muscat and vigneron at Domaine Forgeau
“An excellent state of health”

“In terms of quality, the vines are doing very well and the grapes are in good health. The weather has been on our side throughout the year, except perhaps for spring; but the hot summer made up for that. Harvests are set to start later than usual, just as they are everywhere else, around September 25th or 26th. As for yield, we are expecting figures to be around average – as long as we have a bit of rain!”

Patrice Laurendeau, President, Fédération Viticole de l’Anjou
“Excellent potential, in quality as well as quantity.”

“Our vines are in excellent health, showing good potential in quality as well as in quantity. However, the wet weather we experienced in spring was followed by a very dry summer, and now the vines are suffering the effects of drought. This has affected crop development, and the grapes have been slow to ripen. More water is needed before the vines can resume their normal cycle. We saw a similar situation in 2004, when conditions caused late flowering and hampered

Jean-Martin Dutour, President of InterLoire’s France Communications Commission and négociant, Maison Baudry-Dutour AOC Chinon
“Late, but speedy, flowering”

“Winter and spring were particularly cold and rainy in Touraine, with a higher than usual (by about 25%) level of precipitation. The winter rains were useful for replenishing the water table, but low temperatures during our non-existent spring caused a number of problems in the vineyard. This resulted in late but rapid flowering – it did not get going until the beginning of July, but by then the conditions were excellent. Summer was hot, promoting good vine development which has, so far, been very even. At the moment, it is not easy to estimate yields. Vouvray and Chinon were affected by frosts and hail between April and June, so there will be some loss of volume. We are currently looking to start harvesting at the beginning of October.”

Vouvray: Hopes are high after a hot summer
As a result of violent storms on June 17th, two thirds of the Vouvray appellation’s 2,200 hectares of vineyard were affected by hail. 2 months on, the AOC and its growers are back on their feet with a healthy, high quality harvest, albeit somewhat reduced in size. The hot summer has done wonders for the damaged vines, and hopes were raised even higher by the weather forecast: sun and more sun! This has served to speed up flowering, and made up for any delays the weather caused at the start of the season.

Alain Godeau, President of AOC Touraine and vigneron at La Cave du Père Auguste
“Normal harvest yields”

The year has gone by with no damage in the vineyards. Weather conditions for the year have been good. However, as elsewhere in the Loire Valley, we experienced low temperatures in spring, with the result that harvests will begin later than usual; we expect to start at around then end of September/beginning of October with the Sauvignons and Chardonnays, which are ripening well. The cold nights and warm days bode well for the quality of the crop; as for quantity, we are expecting normal harvest yields.

Emmanuel Charrier of BIVC (Centre Loire)
SICAVAC’s ripeness monitoring network predicts that harvests in Quincy and Reuilly will start around the 26th. Most vignerons will begin picking during the first week in October. The weather over the next few days will be crucial.