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06 August 2021

Santorini harvest 2021: Into the danger zone

By Yiannis Karakasis MW

"The heatwave at the end of June caused much damage. Temperatures reached 40oC and this together with the lack of rain during the winter months hasn’t been favourable for the vines”,  says producer Giorgos Gavalas from Gavalas winery, expressing his concern for the 2021 vintage. Uneven ripening has been the main problem, and this is evident both in different bunches of the vine, but also within the same bunch. "I haven’t seen something of the sort for many years; ripe and underripe berries all at once”, comments Apostolos Mountrichas from Anhydrous winery. He suggests that it may be necessary to harvest in multiple passages to ensure quality, which will be a significant burden on the wineries that do so. 

According to Nikos Varvarigos of Santo Wines, the lack of rain in winter led to a later-ripening vintage. However, the current more intense heatwave that hit the island may impact the vines differently. Estimates place the beginning of harvest for Assyrtiko around August 10th. On his part, Matthew Argyros from Ktima Argyros, describes the upcoming harvest with very few words. ''I do not know. It is a very strange year. The vines are stressed, due to a combination of drought and heat. Just looking at them is saddening. In other words, we are not jumping with joy, but I remain optimistic".

A more poetic interpretation is given to us by, Konstantina Chryssou from the Hatzidakis winery who says ''our team, our family and our vine growers are looking forward to harvesting this unparalleled vintage. A vineyard that never ceases to amaze us. This year especially, the vineyard will be the maestro with the magic baton”, she continues. 

Quantitatively, estimates speak of a maximum of 15% below the generous 2020 of 2,500 tons - subject to the damage caused by the recent heatwave. 
Qualitatively, the uneven ripening raises questions. "The musts will tell the truth," concludes Matthew Argyros. Patience is what is needed. 

As for the prices, that always provoke hot discussions in Santorini, and given that there are stocks of both 2020 and 2019 wines, the estimate is that they will be in the range of last year's prices of 3 to 3.5 euros per kilo. "No war this year", jokes Nikos Varvarigos, underlining the difficulty of achieving a single price under the current conditions.

Photograph by Nikos Koustenis, The Wines of Santorini

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