The provisional balance of the 2016 Rioja harvest is 442.4 million kilograms of authorised grapes. Results are highly satisfactory both in terms of quantity and regarding quality expectations for the wines produced. Unusual September and October weather was a decisive contributor to the exceptional condition of the grapes this harvest. This makes it possible to be very selective and pick the grapes when they reach their optimum ripeness in each vineyard.
If last year was unusual, being the earliest Rioja harvest on record, ending on 13 October, the 2016 harvest has been equally striking in that it lasted over two months. This was the result of good weather coupled with an unexpected increase in production after a growth cycle marked by drought and high summer temperatures.
Total grape production surface area in the region for 2016 was 62,641 hectares (759 more than the previous vintage). Of that total, 58,016 hectares are planted with red varieties and 4,625 with white (143 and 620 more than in 2015 respectively). They yielded an authorised production of 400.14 million kilograms of red grapes (90%) and 42.22 million kg of white grapes (10%). A total of 462.5 million kg grapes were picked this year of which 442.4 million kg were approved after discarding excess production. These were used to make 318.5 million litres of D.O. certified wine. This amount is somewhat lower than what could theoretically be approved with the maximum yields per hectare set out in this year’s Harvest Standards.
First impressions about the quality of the 2016 vintage wines are very optimistic. The Control Board will soon start the rating process (which involves laboratory tests and tastings) to accurately assess the wine made by each winery and in the region as a whole.