6 Things to Know About This Year’s Wine Grape Harvest

austrian hand harvest

The Latest on This Year’s Wine Grape Harvest

The wine grape harvest is complex and relies on a long list of factors. While countries in the Southern Hemisphere are just starting to come to life again after winter dormancy, those in the Northern Hemisphere are right in the thick of cultivating this year’s crop. 

Though all wine regions are unique, we can pay attention to trends and shifts that will affect the vintages we enjoy in the coming years. Between the drastic effects of ongoing climate change and the hardships that come with a global pandemic, this year has certainly been unique for the wine industry. Here’s a high-level overview of everything you need to know about this year’s grape harvest. 

1. Expect drought to play a large part in the 2021 harvest conversation. 

Wine regions such as Paso Robles and Napa Valley have experienced severe drought this year. While these conditions have affected the harvest, winemakers in the area still report a promising yield. 

You may be wondering, “how is that possible?” It’s important to look at the bigger picture when forecasting harvest yields. Thankfully these areas haven’t suffered from wildfire smoke or extreme heat, as they have in the past. Last year, Paso Robles winemakers dealt with less desirable fruit quality due to the smoke and heat, so overall projections are looking promising in comparison. 

2. Across the board, one of this year’s biggest hurdles seems to be manpower.

In short, vineyards are short staffed. Labor shortages are becoming a problem all over the country (and even the world.) These shortages are of course attributed to the global pandemic. 

3. France is facing one of the worst harvests ever due to extreme frost. 

In April, France experienced some of the worst frosts the country has seen in decades. The French government even declared a state of agricultural disaster. About 80% of French vineyards were affected and nearly 30% of this year’s crop was destroyed.

Regions that were hit the hardest include Burgundy, Languedoc, and Bordeaux. Thankfully, the French government did step in with assistance for winemakers, so we can only hope this issue won’t have as drastic of an impact down the line. 

4. The 2021 South African wine grape crop is thriving.

It’s not all doom and gloom in the harvest world. Unlike some other areas of the world, South Africa’s harvest is booming. According to predictions, the crop is said to be 9% larger than last year’s harvest. Prepare yourself for some notable vintages coming from this region!

5. New Zealand’s grape harvest may be one of the smallest in a decade. 

This year, New Zealand is experiencing one of the smallest harvests in at least a decade. Numbers are a whopping 30% short of last year. 

6. South American harvest has been successful and yields positive results.

Some countries in the Southern Hemisphere are reaching the end of their harvests, but overall the general consensus from South America is positive. Chile had a very fresh harvest and experienced slower maturation times.

Argentina did experience some difficulties earlier in the year due to frost and drastic temperature changes in the beginning of the year, but thankfully the harvest still came out on top. 

In Vino Finito

Do you have any questions about this year’s wine harvest? Let us know in the comments! 



Bright Cellars

Our staff is full of passionate wine lovers. With our amazing sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been schooled on all things wine. We came together to write this article, in hopes of spreading a little wine-ducation with you.

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