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Blight threatens to devastate Spain's sherry grape harvest

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Blight threatens to devastate Spain's sherry grape harvest
Sherry producers are worried about this year's crop. Photo: AFP
12:54 CEST+02:00
A warm and wet spring has caused havoc in the vineyards of Andalusia where vintners report that fungus is threatening this year's sherry production.

Winegrowers fear that as much as 80 percent of their crop could be destroyed thanks to mildew fungus caused by warm temperatures and unusually high rainfall during spring.

Wine producing cooperatives across the Jerez region, which lent its name to the fortified wine, have reported devastating effects on their crop.

Among the worst vineyards affected are around San Lúcar where the blight is expected to have damaged between 50 and 70 percent of growth and Trebujena, which has suffered damages of between 30-60 percent.

Francisco Guerrero, head of the Asevi growers cooperative in Jerez confirmed that the unusual weather conditions this year had allowed the mildew fungus to spread.

"After a dry and mild winter no-one expected the heavy rainfall during May," explained Guerrero.

"Many growers hoped to make savings where they could and hadn't taken preventative measures against such unusual weather," he told Efe.

One wine grower expected losses of an estimated 80 percent of his harvest. "It's been a disaster," Jose Sumariva, who runs a vineyard of 8,500 hectares, told El Pais.

Sherry has been enjoying somewhat of a renaissance abroad in recent years ridding its reputation as a sickly sweet aperitif favoured by aged aunts in British drawing rooms to become the hipster's tipple of choice.


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