24 Nov 2011
Discover the harvest report for the year 2011.
The beginning of the year was marked by rainy and cold conditions, with increased rainfall and lower than average temperatures during the last 30 years. During the five months from November to April, while the vines were dormant, almost 500 millimeters of rain fell in Pinhão, in the heart of Cima Corgo. These winter and spring rains were critical to the success of the viticultural year because they replenished the water reserves of the depleted soil ahead of what turned out to be a very dry ripening season.The first buds appeared, as expected, around March 19. April continued to be wet, with relatively warm temperatures prevailing. These conditions encouraged vigorous growth as well as increased risk of fungal diseases, and close surveillance was maintained at three Fonseca farms so that any outbreak could be detected before it spread. From early May, conditions were generally dry and there was virtually no rain in most areas of the Douro region until August 21. However, the vines were able to thrive in the dry conditions, thanks to the groundwater that had accumulated earlier in the year.
The bunches developed under ideal conditions and veraison (grape coloring) occurred a little earlier than usual, around July 15. The weather in June and July was dry but relatively mild, except for a week of intense heat that peaked on July 24 and 25, causing a small amount of the bunches in the most exposed areas to burn, but also ending the growing season and allowing the vines to focus their energies on ripening the grapes.Ripening was encouraged by the warm weather and abundant groundwater, and by the end of July it developed more than usual. Hot and dry conditions prevailed during August, but, with perfect timing, rainfall on August 21 and September 1 closed the ripening producing an evenly ripened crop.The first Fonseca property to begin harvesting was Quinta do Panascal, Fonseca's flagship estate located in the Távora valley, where the first grapes were picked on September 13th. Quinta do Cruzeiro in the Pinhão valley followed soon after on September 15th. The harvest began in the organic vineyards of Quinta do Santo António, another Fonseca property in the Pinhão valley, ten days later, on September 25th. The wines from all the properties were strongly aromatic and showed remarkable depth of color. At this early stage, the wines look very promising and we look forward to assessing their potential as they evolve over the coming months.