The Douro was under attack: midew came and left a big mark

Mildew in the grapesGrowing grapes is far from being a predictable process as we rely a lot on weather conditions. Sometimes too much. So much that adverse weather can destroy what we think is a good crop. And that is what happened with our Tinta Roriz. While we were at Vinexpo, a trade fair in Bordeaux, between the 19th and the 24th of June, our grapes were attacked by mildew. A first forecast points to over 50% loss on Tinta Roriz, around 15% to Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Sousão. The most affected vineyard was Quinta da Trovisca where some vines lost all the bunches as the photos show.

Grapes with mildew My father says that this situation reminds him the harvest of 1988, when also a big part of the crop was lost to mildew. I was only 5 years old at that time and can’t remember these troubles. But I well remember that four years ago, in 2007, there was also a mildew attack all over the Douro, and that did not detained us to make one if not the best Port of the decade. This means that mildew will not affect quality, as long as we take some cautions and carefully select the bunches. Actually, it must increase the quality of the grapes left in the vine, as there are fewer and the vine will focus on ripening very well the fruit that it can still grow.

From what I have talked with other producers, it seems that mildew affect vines everywhere in the Douro. I can imagine that few will admit it, and will swear that everything is perfect with there vines. But what looked like a generous crop a couple of months ago, seems like a reduced one now. And this reduction in the quantity will very likely increase the quality of both Port and Douro wines, bring prices up at the same time, for both wines.

DSCN1764 Leave your comments and questions, I’ll be happy to help you!

Oscar

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  • http://twitter.com/slknowles Steve Knowles

    Interesting as always, Oscar.  The last photograph is superb.  Is it your daughter?

    • Oscar

      hi Steve, this is my 3 year-old niece Beatriz!

  • Jeff

    i had my own june drop and i’m left with no plums!

  • Tom Archer

    Oscar,

    Sorry to hear you suffered so much damage while your back was turned..

    I see the beneficio has been set very low this year – does this reflect the expectation of a small crop?

    • Oscar

      Hi Tom,

      Part of the beneficio reduction is probably justified by these problems with the crop, but the majority of it is due to the reduction in the Port Wine sales in the first half of 2011 and also because there are some stocks from Casa do Douro that are being absorbed by the bottlers. So it can help to stabilize prices.

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  • Rivetto

    Here in the Barolo area, i’m always very worried about mildew attack, is one of the most difficult fungus to get away, the only one way is treat with sulfur. May you tell me which particular conditions in Douro valley helped the mildew? Do you think to do a treatment also immediately after grape harvest? Here in Italy is dtrongly adviced to avoid attack in the next year

    • Oscar

      Hello, during the 3rd of week of June we had warm temperatures with a high level of humidity in the air and in the soil. These conditions were perfect for the downy and powdery mildium to develop. We had the vines relatively protected but, it was not enough to sustain this attack. Usually one application of powdery sulfur is enough. In certain year, like 2006, we don’t even need to proceed to any treatment, that’s is why this year is so special and difficult.