Allegrini 2018

Valpolicella “safe” from hail: 5% of the vineyards damaged. The words of Consortium and producers

Very serious damage, but in a limited area, especially in the plain. Governor Zaia signed the state of crisis for 45 municipalities in Veneto

Where hail fell, the production of grapes and wine, for this 2020, is zeroed, without appeal. Fortunately, to be hit by the hailstorm that devastated especially the city of Verona would have been just over 5% of the vineyards of Valpolicella, especially in the flat area around San Pietro in Cariano and Pescantina, with damage that if for some vineyards was total, for the territory as a whole is not so devastating.
All the more so because the hail hit where part of the production had already been damaged by a similar, but less intense, phenomenon in June. What is worrying in general, given the next 30 days that will be decisive for the harvest of one of the most important wine districts in Italy, a territory that between Amarone, Valpolicella, Recioto, and Ripasso develops a turnover of 600 million euros per year on 8,300 hectares planted with vines in 19 municipalities, is the management of the abundant water fall throughout August, with very compact bunches, on which will require great attention and selection so that what will arrive in the cellar is in optimal conditions. This is the picture that emerges from the words of some of the reference producers in the area, interviewed by WineNews.

“Let’s say that, in general, the situation is very serious, but only in well-demarcated areas - explains the president of the Consorzio Vini Valpolicella, Christian Marchesini - especially around San Pietro in Cariano and San Martino Buon Albergo towards Valpantena. Those who took the hail took it, we are talking about lost harvests between 70% and 100%, and we are very close to the producers affected. However, on the whole, for the territory it went well, all in all, even considering what happened in Verona city. To be affected will be 5% of the vineyards of the denomination”.
A vision confirmed by Sandro Boscaini, at the helm of Masi Agricola: “the situation is not dramatic, a strip was hit that had already suffered hail in June, and here the vineyards have suffered the coup de grace for this year, but the hilly parts have not had much damage”.
“Verona is in a sensational situation, with hundreds of trees destroyed, but we were lucky, a lot of rain has fallen in our vineyards, but not a single grain of hail”, says Marilisa Allegrini, at the head of the family winery, who adds: “where the hail has hit the production is zeroed, and I am so sorry for all the producers. These are events that increasingly push us to ask ourselves what we can do against these climate changes, and if we cannot do anything we have to understand how to equip ourselves”.
“I was lucky, the hail hit only one hectare of Oseletta that I have near Verona - explains Celestino Gaspari, at the helm of Zyme - but in the affected areas it made a disaster. What concerns me the most, however, is the water that abounds, the Corvina and the Corvinone have very compact bunches, especially in the classic area where there are heavier clays, and this complicates things from ripening and selection. On the other hand, we are under the sky, we come from five very good vintages, and now and then a more complicated vintage must be taken into account. Hopefully in the next few days, before mid-September, it would be better not to harvest in Valpolicella, in order to let the grapes ripen in the best possible way, but it will depend a lot on the weather in the next few days and the forecasts so far are not too promising”.
“Luckily it did not hail in our area, it rained a lot and with a very strong wind, which, fortunately, did no damage our area, this time it went well and we hope well for the next few days”, adds Alberto Zenato, at the helm of Zenato, and more or less on the same line of thought is the comment of Andrea Lonardi, production manager of Bertani Domains: “we were so afraid but it went well, the hail hit especially at the bottom. Where it hit, however, it did so gradually, there the loss is total. What worries most are these 30 millimeters of water that have been added to those already fallen, in August it reached 200 millimeters, and so the bunches are compacted even more and it will be very difficult to make the selection of the grapes to set aside”.
“In the plain areas affected it made a disaster - says Riccardo Pasqua, at the helm of the family cellars - while the hill was saved. Luckily most of our vineyards are right on the hill, we saved ourselves, 5-6% of our vineyards were hit, so we do not complain”.
A similar situation to that experienced among the vineyards of Tommasi Family Estates, as explained by the oenologist and agronomist Giancarlo Tommasi: “most of the vineyards are in Sant’Ambrogio, where it rained a lot and with a lot of wind but nothing serious, we were a bit hit around Pedemonte but nothing catastrophic as happened in other areas.
A sigh of relief also between the rows of vines of the Collina dei Ciliegi by Massimo Gianolli, who explains: “in the vineyard, fortunately, we have not suffered any kind of damage. But, in 54 years, in Verona, I had never seen anything like that, from our view of the city it looked like a typhoon. I know that some winegrowers, instead, have been hit in a very serious way, and I am very sorry.
“We were fortunately pardoned, the vineyards were not affected by hail - adds Sabrina Tedeschi from the Tedeschi winery - but we had never seen such a storm. This time we were lucky, I know that the hail hit a bit where it had already hit, so part of the damage was already counted. It's been a difficult year, but we hope for good and to get to the harvest with a few more smiles”.
Save also two of the iconic wineries of Amarone della Valpolicella, such as Dal Forno and Quintarelli. “Luckily we were not hit by the hail, let’s look at what will happen in the next two weeks, which as always will be a very delicate moment”, explains Marco dal Forno. “Here in the Negrar area a lot of rain and wind, but no hail - closes Francesco Quintarelli - that, instead, had hit us in June in some plots, but nothing sensational or exceptional”.
In short, it seems to have gone well for most people, but not for everyone. The Agricoltori Italiani - Cia Verona, while confirming that the hail has affected a few hectares of Valpolicella, emphasizes that for the companies affected “the damage is terrible both for this year and next. But the biggest concern is that the wave of bad weather has not run out. The forecasts are not good and there is the risk of having to suffer further damage”.
In general, however, it is all agriculture that has suffered major damage, for millions, “with fruit trees uprooted, rows of vines cut down, greenhouses and crops destroyed and stables flooded by the violent storm,” explains Coldiretti, who points out that the storm, in addition to the province of Verona, has also affected those of Padua, Vicenza, Rovigo, and the Belluno area.
A complex situation, so much so that the President of the Veneto Region Luca Zaia signed the decree that formalizes the declaration of the state of crisis in 45 municipalities of Veneto, in a list that seems destined to be expanded.
“We’re not gonna make it with little. Verona - said Zaia - is on its knees as well as many other areas of Veneto. The damages are huge, not all the city has been hit but the affected areas are devastated. It is a tragedy comparable also, if on a different scale, to the flood disaster of 2010, the storm Vaia, the whirlwind of the Riviera del Brenta.
The people of Verona have proven to face this situation head-on and have rolled up their sleeves and started cleaning right away. I saw people in tears, I hope that the Government will declare a state of emergency and take urgent action in the Council of Ministers”.

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