The 2023 harvest has proven to be rough in just about every region around the world. The rising frequency of extreme weather events speaks to the challenges we will continue to grapple with as we face the consequences of climate change. Spain was not immune to these erratic conditions, with several catastrophic events devastating vineyards across the country. A sequence of droughts, hail storms, and heat waves all impacted grape production this year, and as wineries begin their harvest, it’s becoming evident that this year’s crop could be the smallest in Spain’s history.
According to a harvest forecast from La Semana Vitivinícola, Spain is expected to cultivate 34.25 million hectolitres of grapes this year on average, which would be 16.6 percent less than 2022, and the smallest harvest ever recorded for the country.
Breaking it down by region, the data shows that hot, dry regions are struggling most intensely. The warm climate areas like Catalonia, the Canary Islands, and Castile-La Mancha are expected to experience significant loss. The Penedès region in Catalonia, famous for its production of Cava, is also experiencing an unprecedented drought this year. The vines in this northeastern region are shriveling up and dying due to the lack of rain, and the area is expected to lose between 35 to 55 percent of its grapes this year as a result. And in early September, the Spanish city of Valencia was hit with a severe hail storm that destroyed about $43 million worth of crops, including vines. Photos revealed that the hail was about as large as a one euro coin.
Areas that receive relief from cooling influences like the Atlantic or the Cantabrian mountains were less directly impacted from this year’s heat waves and droughts. These cooler regions like Galicia and Rioja are showing signs of a good harvest so far, which provides some hope for Spain’s wine industry.