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The 1999 Harvest Report


Dana Nigro
Posted: February 3, 2000



For specific wines, search our tasting notes database.


To read more about the 1999 harvest, see our Harvest Diaries feature.



The 1999 Harvest Report

The Northern Hemisphere's last harvest of the millennium didn't exactly bring signs of a pending apocalypse, just Mother Nature's usual mixed bag of tricks. Unseasonably cool weather delayed harvests throughout California, Oregon and Washington, but most vintners were fortunate enough to avoid fall storms. On the East Coast, the summer was so hot and dry that winemakers picked unusually early -- except for Long Island, which was hit by the remnants of Hurricane Floyd.

In much of France, rain during harvest (and even freak hailstorms) dampened the potential of the 1999 vintage. But in top regions of Italy and Germany, growers were able to ring in the New Year confident that their barrels were stocked with quality wines.

Following are full reports of what to expect from the 1999 vintage for each major wine region throughout the United States and Europe.

-- Dana Nigro


Alsace
After fighting difficult weather and mildew, vintners expect huge variations in quality throughout the region.

Bordeaux
Despite a wet and cool harvest, châteaus are optimistic that they can make reds rivaling those of 1996.

Burgundy
Reds look better than whites from the largest crop in a generation, but much depends on how vintners handled the high yields and harvest rain.

Champagne
Top houses hope to declare the vintage in a year that brought abundant yields and high-quality grapes to help them restock after millennium celebrations.

Languedoc-Roussillon
Freak hailstorms damaged crops just before harvest, but winemakers look for exceptional whites and reds similar to the elegant 1996s.

The Loire
A dry October allowed winemakers to turn a wet harvest into a pleasant vintage, with higher hopes for the region's late-harvest wines.

The Rhône
In a vintage that ranges from the sublime to the mediocre, Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu stand out as the quality leaders.

Piedmont
Northwestern Italy shows potential for a fifth consecutive excellent vintage, but the wet growing season put winemakers to the test.

Tuscany
The home of Chianti is on a roll with its third great vintage in a row, as hot weather brought grapes up to incredible levels of ripeness.

Other Italy
From the northeast to the south, winemakers were happy that the year's quality was better than the rainy 1998 vintage.

Germany
The Pfalz fared best with dry wines, the Mosel favored sweet styles, and the Rheingau shone with both.

Spain
Frost cut the high-quality Rioja crop, while favorable weather resulted in a record harvest in Ribera del Duero.

Portugal
Rain spoiled what would have been an outstanding Port harvest, but some producers remain optimistic.

California
Cool weather kept crops small and dragged the harvest out into November. Quality depends on when wineries picked.

New York/Eastern Canada
A summer drought brought concentrated grapes and an early harvest to New York and eastern Canada, but Hurricane Floyd toyed with Long Island's high hopes.

Washington/Oregon
Though a cool summer meant a late harvest, fortunate vintners avoided fall rains and reaped intense Pinot Noirs and aromatic whites.

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