The first look at the 2020 vintage
The 2020 will be very good, you can say that in advance without a doubt. Although the yields do not show a uniform picture due to the prolonged drought, the quality is even more so.
The last time there was a year with twins was 101 years ago. The 1919 was anything but good. If you believe the annals, there was a very rainy summer with little sunshine and the high humidity led to a strong infestation with fungal diseases. The yield was only around 3,000 liters per hectare. Some of the wines had a strong vinegar smell, so that the vintage was rated as satisfactory at best.
On the other hand, it looks completely different with the 2020. The yields were in individual parcels, where the vines had to get by with homeopathic amounts of precipitation, only 3,000 liters per hectare. However, the average in Rheinhessen is at least once three times the amount and thus in the long-term average. Depending on whether the vines suffered frost damage as early as April, the district in which the vineyards were located and how much precipitation fell there in summer, what the water storage capacity of the soil was, what the weather was in bloom, how old the vineyards are (old vines have deeper Roots) and the yields varied greatly depending on the direction of the rows. And depending on how much the above-mentioned factors overlap in a winery, the individual wineries could achieve very different yields. Every now and then there is one or the other envious look at the neighbor. As a winemaker in times of climate change, however, you have to get used to that.
Slowly even the last skeptic should notice that the years are getting warmer and warmer, that extreme weather events are increasing and that precipitation falls very sharply, especially during the growing season, and that it is becoming the determining factor in the harvest. The old winemaker rule that it takes 100 days from flowering to harvesting of the grapes is literally becoming obsolete. The vines sprout earlier and earlier, the growth accelerates and the harvest takes place earlier and earlier in hot summer temperatures. The night shift for the grape harvester and the early shift for the palm pickers will become completely normal, with cooling technology in the wine press house as standard equipment.
But now to the quality, which all winemakers were equally enthusiastic about this year and which wine lovers can already look forward to. Very healthy grapes, fully ripe grapes, excellent coloring of the red wine varieties, a mild acidity and, if the harvest is timely, moderate alcohol content for dry wines that are easy to drink.