The 2016 harvest will begin officially on Tuesday according to César Saldaña, director of the Consejo. Inspectors from the Casa del Vino, as the Consejo is popularly known, will be out checking sugar and quality levels to ensure the grapes are ideal for DO Sherry. Some grapes have already been harvested from the inland vineyards which are normally slightly more advanced, with the purpose of starting the “pies de cuba”, small fermentations at the bottom of the vat which will help kickstart the bigger fermentations when the harvest begins in earnest.
While picking will commence on Tuesday, it will not be at full speed as there is a slight lack of uniformity in ripening with variations of up to 2ᴼ Beaumé below the minimum required of 10.5ᴼ. César Saldaña says that the reason for this is the unusual weather conditions this year with an intensely dry spring followed by heavy rains. It looks as though the harvest will not be fully under way for at least two weeks. It will certainly be later than last year, and on the dates predicted earlier: towards the end of August.
The grapes have been plagued by episodes of the very hot Levante wind from the east which makes them lose weight in the form of water, but thereby concentrates the sugars and brings forward the harvest. Despite this, not all the grapes are ripe, especially those in the coastal areas where there is a strong influence from the nearby sea. The final yield is always difficult to predict, but thanks to the earlier mildew and the Levante, it could be about 20% lower than last year’s crop. The growers are thinking 60 million kilos compared to last year’s 72 million kilos.