Italy’s first official 2007 harvest preview, published by Unione Italiana Vini, predicts this year’s vintage will be the earliest harvest in the last 30 years.

The report says picking will begin an average of 15 days earlier, with a possible 5% decrease in yields, stressing that climate conditions during the next few weeks will be of vital importance to both aspects.

In what mirrors harvest conditions throughout much of northern Europe, weather patterns have brought the usual growing cycle forward by around three weeks.

‘The growing cycle was early throughout Italy,’ said Antinori’s Renzo Cotarella. ‘High temperatures in the months of March and April preceded the budding by about 15 days. This was followed by an early flowering, in some cases 20 days earlier than usual.’

Marco Pallanti of Castello di Ama in Chianti Classico is concerned with the lack of rain and the soaring temperatures.

‘This could cause the plants to block, resulting in an uneven ripening,’ he said.

Not all producers and regions are expecting an early harvest. For southern Italy it is estimated that harvest conditions are more or less on track as weather conditions throughout the year have been less extreme.

‘We are not looking at an early vintage here in Sicily,’ said Alberto Tasca of Tasca d’Almerita. ‘The timings are in line with previous years and the vines are in great shape thanks to rains in the earlier part of the year. We just hope the current torrid heat will subside.’

Written by Michele Shah