After a year of nearly perfect weather, wine-growers in all 13 German wine-growing regions are extremely pleased with the quality of the 2009 crop. "This year will go down in history as a truly great vintage," predicted Norbert Weber, president of the German Wine-growers' Association/Bonn.
have we been able to harvest such aromatic, healthy and fully ripe grapes as this year." Many estates harvested grapes with must weights of well over 150 degrees Oechsle, the ripeness level necessary to produce the rarities Beeren- and Trockenbeerenauslese.
10-15% less volume than last year According to the German Wine Institute/Mainz, the overall volume of this year's harvest, estimated at 8.8 million hl, is some 10-15% less than last year and the past five-year average. In some regions, such as the Rheingau, Mittelrhein or Nahe, the deficit is estimated to be more than 20%. The size of the crop in Franken, though, was normal, and in the Pfalz, only relatively smaller than usual (-6%). The lower yields are attributed to uneven blossoming as well as the sunny, but dry, late summer weather. Severe winter frost was an additional factor in the easternmost regions, Saale-Unstrut and Sachsen, where this year's crop was only about half of that of 2008.
Apart from individual estates' price adjustments, German Wine-growers' Association president Weber estimates that wine prices will remain more or less stable despite this year's volume deficits. In fact, the size of this year's harvest is in line with market conditions. Given preliminary estimates of the 2009 harvest in Europe as a whole - 173 million hl, or about the same as in 2008 - Germany has no reason to fear excessive market pressure from its European wine-producing counterparts.
Superb price-pleasure ratio The German Wine Institute's managing director, Monika Reule, sees the 2009 vintage as a great opportunity for wine enthusiasts in terms of a price-pleasure ratio. "The 2009 wines of all our wine regions offer superb quality, or value, for money. Many a wine of Spätlese- or Auslese quality potential will be sold as QbA wines in order to meet market demands," says Reule. She reckons with exceptionally fruit-driven, full-bodied and extremely well-balanced white wines and powerful, deep-colored and velvety red wines. It remains to be seen whether vintage 2009 will be crowned with the rarity Eiswein - but the excellent condition of the grapes still on the vine, i.e. healthy and ripe, bodes well. Mother Nature will decide.
Reule is certain that Germany's 2009 vintage will also achieve international acclaim. "In addition to fabulous Rieslings and Pinots, many a wine critic or enthusiast will be surprised by the extraordinary quality of our red wines. In foreign circles, is still a relatively well-kept secret that about one third of Germany's vineyard area is planted with red wine varietals and that Germany is the world's third largest producer of Pinot Noir," explained the wine institute's director.
Grape Must Harvest in Germany in 2009: Preliminary Estimates
Wine-growing Region Estimated Yields 20092008/2009 Change in %