Heatwave and autumn rain put squeeze on winemakers

How many glasses are in a bottle? Photo: Depositphotos.com
Modern assembly line for bottling wine in bottles Photo: Depositphotos.com

A cold spring, summer heatwave and heavy autumn rain have put the dampers on Dutch wine production in 2019. Industry experts estimate that the number of bottles will be around 20% lower than the previous year.

In 2018 Dutch winemakers produced a record 950,000 litres, while this year the total is expected to be around the 800,000 mark. The previous record year was 2013, with 840,000 litres, while two years ago less than 600,000 litres were produced.

Peter van Houtert, chair of the Royal Dutch Wine Traders’ Association (KVNW) told NOS that the weather had hit productivity, but the industry was in good health. ‘It’s correct that production is falling,’ he said. ‘But after an extremely good harvest in 2018 we’re back to an average crop. It’s not dramatic.’

Winemaker Adam Dijkstra, of Wijnhoeve Colonjes in Groesbeek, Gelderland, agreed it was not a major setback for the industry as a whole, although some producers have seen their harvest drop by more than 50%. ‘If you get hit by a frost in the autumn then you’re just plain unlucky. Then it’s a lost year,’ he said.

Dutch wine growing remains a niche industry, with domestic producers accounting for around 1% of the total amount drunk per year. Major wine producing countries have also had their production levels hit by the weather this year, including France, Italy, Spain and Argentina.

Despite fewer bottles being filled in 2019, consumers are unlikely to see any major increases in price as there is still an overall surplus of wine built up in previous years.

Wine merchant Bert Horstkamp, of Heisterkamp Wijnkopers, said there may be a slight rise in the price of nouveau wine. ‘In general, if the harvest is very small and there is a scarcity, the prices can rise,’ he said. ‘We don’t know that yet, but we could certainly see a small increase.’

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