Small haul in Beijing: Hot, moist weather affects production

– By Alain Leroux

We didn’t have a lot of grapes this year at Taillan. The main problem is that I left for a three-week holiday in 2005, the staff didn’t properly care for the vines, and some of them became diseased, lost too many leaves, and died during the winter. We had to replant some of the vineyard and it will take three years minimum to return to full capacity. We also changed some grape varieties we are growing. Production is currently limited to less than 10 hectares, less than half of our capacity.

A major challenge with growing grapes in Beijing is the warm and moist summers. This means we easily get mildew and other diseases. We have to spray and this decreases production.

This summer was hot, with temperatures up to 38 degrees Celsius, and we had a lot of rain, including artificially induced rain. Again, this brought mildew and other diseases, and we had to spray.

We had to harvest between the middle and end of August for several reasons. The weather made our grapes more susceptible to disease, and brought the potential of the disease spreading. We also saw quickly decreasing acidity and we realized that the sugar was at a maximum.

The yield was small, but both red and white grapes were fine this year, a good size, except for the Pinot, which is very sensitive. In the end, we harvested about 30 hectoliters from less than 10 hectares. Normally, we would harvest around 1,200 hectoliters from 20 hectares.

To give you an idea of the fertility of the environment, corn was planted at the end of June and was already three meters high by mid-August, which is far quicker than usual. You can see Beijing’s environment is challenging – we might say very challenging – for growing grapes.

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