The miracle of snow at last. These days it seems like a wonder. A sight, the rows cloaked in white. Grapevines and drought: the problem is really serious. Especially after the great thirst suffered last summer. «You can imagine our relief», says Fabio Marchisio, «to see some snow coming down on our vines, right at the end of February». Better late than never. «Sure, it wasn’t a big snowfall. But better than nothing. Besides, last winter it had snowed only once. Now there have been two snowfalls. And these days rain has also fallen on our vines. Not enough, all right. But again, let’s try to be optimistic».
As is well known, the problem particularly affects the wine-producing Piedmont. It was the only region left without provisions for relief irrigation. «Even if we had been authorized anyway – Fabio says – we would not have known where to draw water: there are no irrigation reservoirs. Regions like Sicily, which have these reservoirs, suffer much less». The issue is serious: according to official data, the weather year 2022 was among the hottest and least rainy in the last 65 years. An exceptional combination, but one observed with increasing frequency over the past two decades.
The average annual temperature was 11.4°, an anomaly of one and a half degrees from the 1991-2020 climate norm. As much as half a degree higher than the previous record recorded in 2017. Torrid summer: the hottest ever, after the (record) summer of 2003. Worse still if the heat is compounded by thirst: the average annual precipitation was just 562 millimeters. Translated: «A rainfall deficit of about 647 millimeters, which is 45 percent less than the climatic norm for the last three decades».
«Prolonged and widespread drought conditions have exceptionally affected natural and environmental resources, as well as agriculture», technicians remark. But beware: it was already clear in the winter that the summer would be difficult. «The phenomenon had started in the 2021-2022 winter season with a long period of dry days: as many as 111 days without rain, the second driest winter in recent history». This year is definitely better: it’s raining and snowing a little more. «It’s not enough, to recover well from the water stress suffered by the vines. But in the meantime it’s already something». Fabio Marchisio feels the same way as his fellow winemakers: they are hoping for a spring decidedly more generous with rainwater.