The 2023 grape harvest has officially kicked off throughout Italy. This opening occurs against a backdrop of considerable complexity: the emergence of extreme weather conditions, such as moments of intense weather phenomena and prolonged periods of heat waves, has profoundly impacted vineyards, resulting in significant effects on grape production nationwide. In addition, both the domestic and export markets are experiencing a significant slowdown.
Early estimates released by Coldiretti indicate that national wine production could suffer a 14% contraction, with even more pronounced decreases of up to 50% in the central and southern regions, which are particularly affected by the spread of Downy mildew. This would make 2023 one of the most difficult periods in the recent history of the Italian wine industry, comparable to the challenges faced in 1948, 2007 and 2017.
The estimated production quantity for the current year is around 43 million hectoliters, registering a marked reduction from the 50 million of the previous vintage. However, despite these less favorable figures, experts point to the possibility of producing wines of excellent quality thanks to the attention paid to the vineyards and refined cultivation techniques.
In Italy, the wine sector has made huge investments to safeguard the vitality of vineyards. Despite this, crucial regions such as Sicily and Apulia, which make up more than 20% of national wine production, are experiencing losses of up to 40 percent in their vineyards. Central and southern areas, such as Molise and Abruzzo, are facing even more pronounced declines, with losses as high as 60% of the grapes to be harvested. However, some northern areas are seeing a more positive situation, with yields stable or slightly increasing from the previous year.
Despite the decrease in figures, the industry maintains a firm determination to ensure the high quality of the product. Italy continues to aspire to the role of primary wine producer globally, challenging intense competition especially with France, which also faces difficulties related to vine diseases and climatic uncertainties.