This year’s environmental challenges could lead to the worst harvest in decades for Argentine winemakers.
Drought conditions are causing an especially dire situation in the Mendoza wine region, according to a March 23 article by France24. Extreme heat, lack of rain, hail, and frost have all contributed to what is expected to be an exceptionally small harvest from the region. Mendoza, a large province in western Argentina, accounts for some 78 percent of all Argentinian wine production.
Argentina (especially the high-altitude region of Mendoza) is renowned for its production of Malbec, a fruit-forward and full-bodied red grape that’s beloved among drinkers.
Farmers are currently harvesting grapes, hoping to capture salvageable fruit before frost could destroy it. The process of separating damaged grapes from healthy ones by hand is time-intensive — and particularly disappointing this year, as extreme weather conditions widely impacted the harvest.
Some winemakers expect a complete loss of their wine grapes this season, while other producers, like Bodega Monteviejo, expect a 50 percent decrease in their grape output. The country’s entire harvest is expected to amount to a maximum of 15.4 million tons — down from 22.2 million tons in 2021. This year’s numbers represent a 40 percent reduction in harvested grapes compared to an average year, according to France24.
Farmers across multiple industries have been suffering from a two-year-long drought, according to the Associated Press. Soybean, wheat, and corn crops greatly decreased from years prior — as much as 44 percent, in the case of soybean output.
The total impact of the devastating climate events on this year’s grape harvest won’t be fully known until May.