Celebrated by winemakers as one of the best grape crops of the decade in terms of quality, the 2018 harvest accounted for the yield of 663.2 million kilograms of fruit in gaucho wineries. The volume, considered to be within the historic norm, is 12% smaller than the previous vintage. Of the total, 597,699,541 were American and hybrid grapes, and 65,640,421 were Vitis viniferas. In this crop, 113 grape varieties were harvested in 129 municipalities of Rio Grande do Sul, with processing in 64 cities of the State. Just as in the last six years, 50% of production went to preparing juice.
Marcio Ferrari, vice president of the Brazilian Wine Institute (Ibravin) and coordinator of the Interstate Grape Committee, explains that the drop in production was expected, due mainly to the supercrop of 2017 – the largest in history – when 753.2 million kilograms of grapes were harvested for processing. “Naturally, after a very large harvest, the grapevines were in a weakened state, suffering a decrease in production. We also had few hours of cold in the 2017 winter, so they grew less and consequently decreased in volume,” he indicates.
The director still emphasizes the importance of good raw materials so that Brazilian labels continue to stand out in the domestic and Foreign markets. “The quality of this crop has shown to be much superior, both for winemakers who sell grapes for processing and those who trade them as natural fruit. When we say quality, it is important to underscore that we do not only consider the sugar content (degrees brix), but also the fruit’s health and color. These are the three factors that will result in excellent products,” he remarks.
The president of Ibravin, Oscar Ló, agrees with the entity’s vice president’s assessment, praising the quality of the raw material quality for elaborating wines, sparkling wines, and grape juice. “It will be a reference crop, especially for reserve red wines. Our expectation is that it reflects positively on the sector and helps boost sales,” he adds.
Among the cultivars with greater productivity this year in the State are Isabella, Bordeaux, and white Niagara of the American and hybrid grapes, and white Muscat, Merlot, and Chardonnay of Vitis viniferas. “By the numbers, the Bordeaux variety demonstrated a growth in volume, its production approximates the production of Isabella, because it is a profitable grape that is often requested for juice production. We also noticed a large Niagara production, which almost produced nothing in the last crop,” explains Ferrari.
Flores da Cunha was the city that most produced grapes for processing. Bento Gonçalvez had the largest volume for winemaking. This year, the grape harvest began in the second half of December in Vale dos Vinhedos and closed in the beginning of April in Campos de Cima da Serra, the region with the highest altitude in Rio Grande do Sul.
The State accounts for 90% of the grapes for processing in Brazil.