Matters this year are rather challenging all over.  Europe has sustained very poor weather, and, for example, the Italian crop countrywide is estimated to be down 13%.


Deep and repeated frigid spells last winter have wiped out a considerable portion of the American Midwest and Northeast, with spring frosts, poor set, mildew pressures and summer hail eradicating much else including in Texas and the California’s North Coast, where crops are in the lower areas off by as much as 30%.  California’s extreme drought challenges many growers to bring unshriveled crops to the crushing station, and the prospect of smoke damage looms large.


Meanwhile, demand for wine continues to increase.  None of this is good news for the consumer.  Prices are already up and are likely to climb as shortages mount.


The good news is that the harvest is extremely early, as much as a month, bringing about the possibility of dodging some of these perils.  Some meteorologists predict heavy rains from El Niño, much needed but problematic if it comes while grapes remain on the vine.  The earliness of the season paradoxically may result in high acidities in some cases, as the fruit has simply not had time to metabolize its malic acid completely.

In general, color and flavor are good, but tannins are low in many cases, so the prospect is for wines that are for early drinking rather than aging.