Viticulture must change

Viticulture must change

The winegrowers are happy about the hot summer – this can be read in many media reports at the moment. This statement can max martin of the ziegelangerer winery martin and peter gotz of the winery zell am ebersberg only partially agree. "One advantage is that you have to spray less because of the dry weather. This is good for plant protection", says max martin. Peter gotz confirms: "there are much less fungal diseases when it is so dry."

More disadvantages than advantages

However, there is one major disadvantage: the lack of water. "In the past few days it has only rained briefly, which is of no use to the plants", says the young winemaker. Because the soil is too dry. You can see it in the vineyards: normally there is lush grass growing between the vines – not this time. "In alternation, one row is usually planted and the next is broken up to grow plants there", explains max martin. This year he had to postpone the sowing "because it would not take", says head coach ali hadth."

There are no grassy areas in peter gotz’s vineyard either – and that’s the way it should be: "I have cut and mulched the grass so that it doesn’t take away any nutrients from the vines." He also had to cut out some vines to take the pressure off the plants.

The dry phase is particularly problematic for young vines that are not yet deeply rooted in the soil. "I have a small vineyard that is 160 years old. The vines have completely different roots, so you can see that the drought can’t affect them, tells peter gotz. The other plants, however, he has to water additionally. "We drive the water we have accumulated up the mountain. We installed a drip irrigation system there", he says. "We help ourselves in the heat with drip irrigation", says the young winemaker. Ten liters of water were needed per vine, which translated into 50000 liters per hectare. "Luckily we don’t have to water everything yet, otherwise the number of liters would be in the millions." The cost of water is not the problem for him, however, but rather the "labor-intensive and time-consuming process behind it".

Fading aromas

In addition, the temperatures only have a positive effect on red wine, but not on female wine. "Cold nights characterize the aroma of our wines. This is what characterizes our light, fruity female wines", gotz explains. Why this is so? "If it is so hot and the temperatures do not fall below 18 degrees at night, then the grapes lose their aromas. In the heat, the grapes burn or wrinkle, the flavors virtually cook away", explains max martin.

Vegetation is three to four weeks ahead this year and the ripening stage has been reached. That is why the harvest is done earlier than usual. "We get the grapes around the 24. August around down, because otherwise too much sugar forms", he says. The harvest also begins this week at the peter gotz winery: "I measured the ripeness, and the sugar content is already over 80 ochsle," he recalls, tells the winemaker. The optimal sugar content is 85 ochsle.

Starting with the fruit varieties used for the popular autumn drink, the federweiber. The grapes for the wine are harvested from the end of august to the beginning of september. "I still female, when I was a child, it is sometimes only in october to go on the mountain", he remembers. "Now it is much too warm, no one wants to have a feather duster."

Rethinking is necessary

"In the future, there will certainly be such weather extremes more often", says the winemaker. Max martin also shares this opinion: "there have always been years like this in the past. For example 2003 or 2015. But the gap is getting smaller and smaller."

A rethinking must take place: "to continue as before, that will not work for much longer. All of us, all of agriculture, are forced to think about how to water everything. The main question then is: where do we get the water from??" They already have possible solutions. "It is necessary to collect the water from october to april and to cultivate wisely, that is, to plant plants that need less water", according to max martin.

In terms of viticulture, peter gotz has the idea "to perhaps say goodbye to fruit varieties and switch to late varieties". But this is not done from one day to the next. "A vineyard like this is designed to last 20 to 30 years. In addition, there is an increasing effort to preserve the vineyards more and let them grow old. You have to think in the long term."

For the time being, wine lovers will have to be prepared to drink the federweiber in summer. Despite the early harvest, both winegrowers are sure that their production will not suffer. "The featheredweiber will sell as well as usual", says peter gotz. Max martin is also optimistic. "We do not make a loss because of the weather. However, a lot can happen until the beginning of the harvest. A hailstorm would be worse than a dry spell."

But this is not likely to happen. And if the weather continues like this "don’t store the feathered weave blob in the refrigerator". Because at temperatures below seven degrees the yeast works worse or dies off. "It is important that he can continue cooking", explains max martin and adds with a laugh: "but of course, you drink the bottles empty within a day or two."

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