The summer drought also spread across south-eastern Europe. Hungary, for example, experienced its driest year since 1901. However, according to OIV data, at least there as well as in Romania and Bulgaria, volumes are not too far from the average of recent years. The situation is different in Greece: compared to last year, the harvest is about a third smaller, according to the OIV figures, although the vintage is satisfactory on balance. In general, the exceptional heat and drought subsided the further south-east it went.
The OIV expects a harvest of 2.5 mill. hl for Hungary this year. A minus of 3% compared to last year, when 2.6 mill. hl were harvested. As in most parts of Europe, this small decline is due to the heat. The last strong vintage in terms of volume was 2018, a few years ago, when 3.6 mill. hl were produced. The 5-year average is 2.9 mill. hl, raised slightly by the outlier vintage of 2018.
Romania records a slight growth. 4.6 mill. hl this year, compared to 4.5 mill. hl last year. That makes a plus of 4%. The harvest volume is slightly above the 5-year average of 4.3 mill. hl. Romania was also affected by severe heat and water shortages, but not to the same extent as many regions further west.
From Romania south of the Danube there was also a slight increase in volume. Bulgaria's harvest volume is probably 0.9 million hl. In 2021 it was 0.8 million hl. The result is close to the 5-year average of one million hl. The rapid loss of vineyards has stabilised over the years due to EU programmes - from 160,000 ha in 2000 to less than 63,000 ha in 2015 to 66,000 ha in 2020. However, some indicate a renewed downward trend, which is why wine production could continue to decline in the long term.
Greece - Europe's Enigma
Even further south in Greece, the OIV expects wine production to reach 1.7 mill. hl this year. Last year it was 2.4 mill. hl. The fall is 29%, which makes Greece one of the big losers in terms of volume. However, Constantine Stergides, trade fair organiser of the Athens Oenorama and very well connected in the Greek wine scene, expects the fall to be only 5-10% as soon as the final harvest results are known in March.
"Overall, 2022 is a pretty good vintage, with only two short heat waves and - with a few exceptions - no devastating rains," says Stergides. Unusually, however, it rained locally as early as August, forcing Santorini's winemakers to harvest in the rain for the first time. The rainfall mainly affected the winegrowers of Crete and Achaia in the northwest of the Peloponnese. Other regions such as Naoussa, Nemea or Mantinia, on the other hand, were expected to produce top quality wines. Tragically, fires raged in some places such as Crete. (SW)