With picking over but for a handful of coastal vineyards and the great majority of the press-houses now closed, César Saldaña, director of the Consejo Regulador reports on a problem-free vintage of high quality and higher yields than last year.
It could be said that the harvest 2015 is virtually finished. Of the 31 press-houses registered with the Denominación de Origen this year almost all of the few which are still working today are located in coastal areas where they are pressing the grapes from the vineyards closest to the sea. As is known, the Sherry harvest is a gradual process which begins in the interior vineyards and gradually extends towards the coastal areas as the grapes gradually reach the optimum level of maturity for picking.
This year the pressing of the first Palomino grapes – the predominant variety – began as early as the 3rd of August as a consequence of the extreme heat recorded in early summer. The relatively gentle temperatures in the second part of the month slowed down the picking while optimum ripening was awaited.
In general the grapes have been arriving at the press-houses in a very healthy state as a result of the exceptionally benign conditions provided by last spring. After a moderately rainy winter with average rainfall slightly below the normal 600 litres per square metre, spring was very dry which had a very positive effect on the vines, with an almost total absence of insect pests and diseases. Furthermore, the winter rains were spread out over a longer period meaning that the albariza soil was able to absorb it gradually without soil erosion and build up the water reserves in the subsoil necessary for the vines to develop adequately to face the summer.
Consequently we have a healthy crop with a very good balance of acidity and an average sugar level which at the start of the harvest was very high but moderated itself to a level of 11.3ᴼ Beaumé. In terms of quantity we estimate a medium to large crop and production per hectare at the end of the harvest will probably exceed 11,000 kilos. This will provide us with approximately 75 million kilos of grapes with which to make the wine necessary to re-stock the criaderas as well as supplying the raw materials to make other quality products made in the Jerez area. Among those a special mention for Sherry vinegar which also has a Denominación de Origen and which is seeing growing demand and ever rising sales.