Mixed up weather means 2017 is not a good year for Dutch wine

Too much heat too soon, frost in April and as late as May have meant that 2017 will not be a good year for wine in the Netherlands. Wine growers estimate that at least a quarter of the grapes will be unfit for purpose.

The Association of Dutch Wine growers (VNWP) says this means fewer bottles of Dutch white wine in 2017 and fewer bottles of red in four years’ time, public broadcaster NOS reports.

Wine production is not a very big industry as it is and no Dutch wine is finding its way abroad as yet. In 2016 the Netherlands had 134 wine growing businesses which together take up some 240 hectares of land. Their joint production last year hovered around the million bottle mark, a fraction of the 500 million bottles which the Dutch consume annually.

Ground water

Wine grower and VNWP spokesman Diederik Beker, who produces some 25,000 bottles a year on his vineyard in the Betuwe, in the province of Gelderland, has managed to protect his grapes and the damage to his vineyard is not too bad. ‘I  think my harvest will be down 10%,’ he told NOS.

Beker sprayed his grapes with water during the spell of frost which gave them a thin layer of ice preventing the frost from damaging the plant. Not all growers can afford the machinery involved but the main problem is the scarcity of ground water.

‘There is enough water in the Betuwe but not so much in Limburg and in Zeeland the ground water is salty and grapes don’t like that.,’ Beker told the broadcaster.

Disaster

Wine grower Albert Maessen in Klimmen, in Limburg describes his vineyard (Kruisboom) as a disaster area. ‘It’s a mess. We had terrible hail in June and the vines stopped growing by themselves. And then the small shoots that appeared were hit by frost.’ NOS quotes him as saying.

Fewer bottles does not mean a drop in quality, Beker claims. ‘The last six to eight weeks are crucial for quality. The hot weather has meant harvesting will start early, at the beginning of September and from mid-May the grapes have been in a sort of turbo mode. I have never seen anything like it.’

According to Beker what is needed is consistent Dutch summer weather: not too hot, not too much rain and no storms.

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