Low Rainfall and High Temperatures Set to Hamper Chile’s Wine Harvest for the 2023/24 Season

Red Wine
White Wine
Market & Price Trends
Published Apr 11, 2024
ODEPA's Harvest Forecast Report for the 2023/24 season provided a comprehensive view of vineyard conditions across Chile's wine valleys. Challenges such as low winter rainfall and high temperatures were highlighted in the Atacama, Coquimbo, and Limarí regions, resulting in significant water deficits. Production projections for the 2024 harvest indicate a 30% YoY decrease in the Atacama and Coquimbo regions, notably impacting Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc varieties. Insights from the Nov-23 grape grower survey revealed positive expectations, with 67% anticipating yield increases. Production forecasts indicate growth in white varieties such as Moscatel de Alejandría, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier, while maintaining levels for Sauvignon Vert and Pedro Jiménez.

Status of Chile's Wine Valleys

The Office of Agrarian Studies and Policies (ODEPA) Harvest Forecast Report for the 2023/24 season shed light on the status of vineyards across Chile's wine valleys. In a typical crop year, the white grape harvest occurs from the last week of February through mid-March, and the red grape harvest occurs from mid-March through late April or early May. The yearly report, conducted in Nov-23, highlighted challenges in some regions while production increases are expected in others.

Atacama and Coquimbo regions

The Atacama and Coquimbo regions experienced some challenges, including low winter rainfall and high temperatures, leading to significant water deficits. In the Elqui Valley, extreme drought persists, though vineyard health remains relatively robust with minimal disease incidence. However, a 30% YoY decrease in production is projected for the Atacama and Coquimbo region's 2024 harvest, particularly affecting Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc varieties. Similarly, the Limarí Valley faces severe water shortages and high temperatures, impacting vineyard health and necessitating the removal of Syrah vines due to low yields. Production forecasts for the upcoming season are still unavailable.

Valparaíso Region

The Valparaíso Region experienced severe drought only in Petorca, while overall, the water condition was better at the season's onset compared to the last five production years. Despite improved water conditions, the Casablanca Valley spring frost is expected to reduce production in affected vineyards.

Furthermore, growers have reported a minimal incidence of false vine spider mites and varying degrees of wood fungus. Within the Casablanca Valley, production fluctuations range from a 30% YoY decline due to frost to a 10% YoY increase. In the Aconcagua Valley, favorable water availability and minimal frost damage contribute to an optimistic outlook, with production expected to remain stable or increase by up to 5% compared to the previous season. Similarly, the San Antonio Valley reports comparable or higher soil water availability, with minimal frost damage and diverse phytosanitary issues. While a slight decrease in production is forecasted in vineyards affected by winter flooding, newly established Sauvignon Blanc vineyards anticipate a significant increase of up to 50% in grape production compared to the previous season.

Central Valley Region

In the Central Valley Region, rainfall has been consistently above average from 2018 to 2022, contributing to favorable vegetation conditions. Production expectations in the Maipo Valley are optimistic due to adequate water conditions and minimal production challenges during spring. However, frost damage in red varieties was reported in mountainous areas during Sep-22 and early Oct-22. Major vineyard concerns include varying levels of incidence of the wood fungus complex and attacks by false vine spider mites and grapevine moths. In addition, a low level of Naupactus xanthographus (burrito de la vid) infestation was recorded. Planting activities in the Maipo Valley encompass Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, and Chardonnay varieties, while Merlot vineyards were removed due to low yields. Producers anticipate grape quantity increases ranging from 10 to 30% compared to the previous season.

O'Higgins Region

The O'Higgins Region reported that water conditions are favorable compared to the average from 2018 to 2022, with reservoirs nearing maximum capacity by early spring. Moderate winter temperatures prevailed but began to rise towards Nov-23.

Cachapoal Valley growers noted increased soil moisture, with slight delays in sprouting for most varieties. No frost was reported at the season's outset. Phytosanitary conditions varied, with medium to high levels of false vine spider mites and varying incidences of wood fungus. Some vineyards were uprooted due to production changes and wood diseases, with a 10% reduction in flooded areas. Production is expected to maintain the same level or increase up to 5%.

In the Maule Valley, growers reported increased soil water content at bud break, with varied bud break timing. Some frost damage was noted in late Oct-22, along with low to high levels of false spider mites and powdery mildew. Vineyards were replanted, with yield increases of 5 to 20% anticipated.

Insights from the 2023 Harvest Forecast Survey

The harvest forecast survey conducted between November 20 and 27, 2023, provided insights into grape growers' expectations for the 2024 crop projection. As of November 27, 2023, according to the survey results, 67% of growers anticipate an increase in their yields, contrasting with 18% who foresee a decrease in production. Furthermore, 15% of surveyed growers expressed expectations of no changes compared to the 2023 harvest.

Production is forecast to increase in white varieties such as Moscatel de Alejandría, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier. At the same time, the production of Sauvignon Vert and Pedro Jiménez is expected to be maintained.

Figure 2. Production level compared to the previous 2022/23 season

Source: ODEPA
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