Due to the dry and warm summer weather, the Brabant winegrowers can look forward to a fantastic vintage. But it remains exciting, because the last weeks before the harvest in September or October are crucial for the yield and quality of the divine drink. This time a wasp infestation can just cause a sour aftertaste. “There are now a lot of them and they like to eat grapes,” says winegrower Ron Langeveld from Chaam.

    The vines look beautiful on Langeveld’s organic vineyard Dassemus on Friday. He has no less than five hectares, that is about 7.5 football fields, full of red and white grapes. “It’s really fantastic at the moment, but it’s about the last part, isn’t it. After all, there are always plagues lurking,” the winegrower immediately tempers expectations.

    “Wasps are a thing though.”

    For example, it can rain a lot in those ‘important last weeks’, there can be fungi and diseases. But Langeveld is perhaps most concerned about the large number of wasps this year. “That could be a thing. In 2020 we also had a lot of them. They then ate about three thousand kilos of grapes.”

    In that year, the Langeveld removed seven wasp nests around the vineyard. But that was not an easy job. “The nests are hard to find. The wasps are often in a tree, in the ground or in a ditch. And on top of that, they fly up to two kilometers from their nest.”

    “It can only get better this year.”

    Despite the possible ‘dangers’, everything is going according to plan for the time being and it could be a very good vintage. “But we prefer to say that once the grapes have been picked and are in the cellar inside. This year can only get better.”

    Some grapes are already starting to color (photo: Jan Waalen).
    Some grapes are already starting to color (photo: Jan Waalen).

    How completely different it was last year. 2021 remained cold and wet. Flowering in the vineyards started late and many winegrowers had to deal with mold in their vines. “That was the worst season for me in the last ten years. It can only get better this year,” says winegrower Paul Bosse of Domaine de Brabantse Wal in Ossendrecht.

    “Unfortunately, it is a good wasp year.”

    According to the winegrower in the Southwest corner, the heat this summer also has a downside. “Normally you remove the leaves in front of the trusses to provide sunlight. If you do that too early, you can suffer from sunburn damage. Luckily we don’t have that.”

    Bosse is positive, but like Langeveld does mention wasps as a problem. “Unfortunately, it is a good wasp year. A number of varieties ripen earlier and have to deal with the wasps that eat the grapes.” The winegrower is confident that the insect infestation can be brought under control.

    “Our wine is also very much alive outside Brabant.”

    There is no need for sour wine this year either. The grapes will ripen over the next six weeks. “If they have had a lot of sun in the last few weeks, the sugars go up and you get a riper grape that can give more alcohol. And that affects the end result.” Bosse hopes to make about five to seven thousand bottles of white wine with his vineyard this year.

    Winegrower Langeveld in Chaam expects to be able to bottle about twenty thousand bottles of wine again this year. And those bottles mainly go out of the province. A third is exported to lovers of Brabant wine in Japan, Canada and Scandinavia.

    The vines look good (photo: Jan Waalen).
    The vines look good (photo: Jan Waalen).

    Langeveld also sees a growing interest in Brabant wine above the rivers. He even planted a new piece to be able to produce more. “We are an organic vineyard and natural wine is very much alive in the Randstad.”

    “Still a long way to go.”

    Brabant, with fifteen professional vineyards, now counts among vinologists. The wines are regularly awarded for their excellent quality. And climate change is contributing to that. According to meteorologists, the south of the Netherlands has the same climate as Burgundy in 1970. And that stands for good wines.

    For the time being, however, we do not have to count on the fact that we will soon be able to drink exclusively Dutch wine. “That will be difficult. We drink 350 million bottles a year in the Netherlands and produce about 1 million with all vineyards together. So we still have a long way to go.”

    The grapes get a lot of sunlight and heat this year (photo: Jan Waalen).
    The grapes get a lot of sunlight and heat this year (photo: Jan Waalen).