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Record Temperatures, Wildfires Wreak Havoc on Europe’s Winemakers

Growers fear yields could be 25% smaller than usual.

Smoke surges from vineyards in Pumarejo in northwest Spain on July 18.

Smoke surges from vineyards in Pumarejo in northwest Spain on July 18.

Photographer: MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP

In Portugal’s Douro Valley on July 7, a wildfire burned close to Oscar Quevedo’s Quinta da Alegria vineyard. By the middle of the night, flames surrounded it. The vines around the edges, amounting to about a hectare, burned. In his 39 years, Quevedo says, “I had never seen such a big and fast fire in the heart of the Douro.” 

All over Europe, temperatures in wine regions have been sweltering at new highs, and heat waves are moving north into such normally cool countries as Germany.  In the UK, temperatures above 40C (104F) were recorded for the first time. Winemakers worry this will lower yields by 25% or more for this vintage. Many had already been slammed by early frost and hail. Increasingly intense heat waves are signaling that conditions could become even more extreme and unpredictable over time.