Totto Winery Harvest Report: 2023 Vintage
In September 2022, we released Totto Winery's first Harvest Report. We received a lot of positive feedback and realized the importance of keeping our efforts visible.
Here is a report on this year's viticulture, along with climatic conditions such as temperature, rainfall, and sunshine, as well as the growth status of each grape variety and the quality of wine that can be expected.
1 ．General view of the grapes
Winter and spring brought warm days with little snowfall. With the cherry blossoms blooming earlier than usual, the grapes also grew at a faster pace than usual. Sprouting (buds emerging from the vines) was one to two weeks earlier than last year, and although we had concerns about frost damage, the vines grew well with no major damage.
May brought more rain than usual. Rain at this time of the year, when the grapes are in bloom, can lead to blossoming, which greatly affects the grapes' ability to bear fruit. Some grape varieties will have reduced yields due to the lack of fruit set due to the rain, but this is a positive factor for wine grapes as the reduced yields are thought to improve the quality of the grapes.
This year, the rainy season began on May 29, eight days earlier than usual. This also led to earlier disease outbreaks. The rainy season brings additional disadvantages for viticulture: increased rainfall, reduced sunlight, and increased humidity.
The prolonged rainy season meant more rain than usual. Outbreaks of downy mildew and Anthracnose* also occurred, but the variety's resistance to the diseases and pest control work enabled our grapes to survive the rainy season. (*Anthracnose: A disease caused by a filamentous fungus. It causes withering of branch tips and poor fruit enlargement.)
After the rainy season ended on July 20, it was followed by 25 days of extremely hot weather with almost no rain. The almost total absence of rainfall allowed the grape berries to ripen more rapidly, but the days remained too warm, making it difficult to obtain the moisture necessary for grape growth. Because the fruit was ripening we were not keen to irrigate, but the vines needed some water to keep them healthy. In many plots, the ground was dry, and some vines experienced significant wilting.
Vines dying due to dryness of the ground
(August 14, 2023)
The same vineyard in 2022
On August 15, Typhoon No. 7 caused extensive damage to the eastern part of Tottori Prefecture including an extreme heavy rain warning for the entire city of Tottori. The winery also suffered damage. In particular, the vineyard where we grow our proprietary Ubeno grapes suffered unprecedented damage, including collapsed shelves.
Knowing that the typhoon was coming, grape varieties that had reached a certain level of maturity were harvested before it arrived, while unripe grapes were harvested as needed after the typhoon.
The grapes harvested before the typhoon were in excellent condition due to the previous good weather.
Grapes harvested after the typhoon passed had to be picked before they split from the excessive moisture. We believe that with grapes in various conditions, we can maximize the potential of the grapes by using cold fermentation, which is what we have been doing since the establishment of our winery.
The 2023 vintage was marked by short-lived localized rain that threatened our living conditions, but the grapes were harvested without severe damage.
【About Typhoon No. 7】
Hourly precipitation: 63 mm
(the largest ever recorded in August)
Total precipitation: 225.5 mm
(twice the August total precipitation in previous years)
Maximum instantaneous wind speed: 24.6 m/s
Average wind speed: 8.2 m/s
Figure１ Average Temperature in Tottori City from April to August
Figure２ Trends in total precipitation in Tottori City from April to August
2．Overview by Grape Variety
(1) Yama Blanc
Developed at the University of Yamanashi for cultivation in Japan's hot and humid summer climate, this variety is a cross between Pinot noir and the crimson glory vine, and has characteristics such as no splitting, small berries, as well as excellent wine quality.
This year, the grapes did not suffer from frost damage in early spring and grew well, but more rain than usual from April to June affected fruiting, such as flower shaking. Although there was some damage from downy mildew, the grapes survived the rainy season, heat wave, and typhoon, and each grape has a concentrated fruit flavor. This is the flagship grape variety of Totto Winery, and we are looking forward to this year's harvest with great anticipation.
（Yama Blanc: photographed on August 14）
(2) Yama Sauvignon
Developed at the University of Yamanashi for growing in Japan's hot and humid summer climate. It is a cross between the crimson glory vine and Cabernet Sauvignon, and has the same characteristics as Yama Blanc and can be colored well in cloudy Tottori.
This variety also grew soundly without frost damage. Due to the high precipitation, branches grew quickly, and we had to manage them from May to June. Mildew appeared earlier than usual, but due to the resistance of the grape varieties and the control of the disease, the growth was almost unaffected. Veraison (grape coloration) was normal, and we expect to reach the grape quality we are aiming for.
（Yama Sauvignon: photographed on August 14）
Ubeno is our own original high quality white wine grape variety developed to cope with the climate of Tottori. Ubeno was first vinified and sold last year, and was highly acclaimed for its sweet pineapple-like fruit aroma and ripe fruit-like flavor. 169 bottles were sold out within 3 months of its release. This variety was most severely damaged by the typhoon in August. We have some concerns about how the earlier harvest due to the typhoon will affect the quality of the wine. However, we are aiming for a flavor comparable to last year's vintage through careful vinification using low-temperature fermentation in order to bring out the full potential of the Ubeno grape.
（Ubeno: photographed on August 14）
Lino is a proprietary white wine grape variety developed for the same purpose as Ubeno. Last year's wines were very good, with fresh, acidic and mineral wines with a refreshing Muscat aroma. The grapes grew well without feeling the effects of the rainy season, and were harvested in good condition before the typhoon in August. Although the grapes are new to the vinification process, we expect the wines to be of higher quality than last year.
（Lino: photographed on August 14）
(5) New varieties for our original red wine (*Official name to be decided by the end of this fiscal year)
As with Ubeno and Lino released in January 2023, we are also conducting research on red wine varieties that can be grown in the Tottori environment. This year, we plan to release wine made from this new red wine variety (hereafter referred to as "New Variety Red").
The new variety Red not only has high quality when made into wine, but also has the ability to cope with a climate that changes drastically every year. It is disease resistance and resistance to cracking.
The new variety red is relatively early ripening and, like Lino, was harvested in good condition before the typhoon. The grapes had sufficient sugar content and the grapes' thick skins ensured that there were no splits.
Please look forward to this year's first new variety red to be vinified.
（New Variety Red: photographed on August 14）
(6) Western varieties
In addition to the above varieties, we also grow and vinify other European and American varieties. Each variety has a different character, and we are very excited to see how the wines turn out.
Rainfall in mid- to late-August caused some fruit damage prior to ripening.
（Syrah: photographed on August 14）
(b) Pinot Noir
Dryness after the rainy season improved the sugar content of the berries, resulting in rich fruit flavors and aromas.
（Pinot Noir: photographed on August 14）
The ripening speed varied from vine to vine, but generally the grapes grew well.
（Grenache: photographed on August 14）
Heavy rains caused by the typhoon temporarily flooded the vineyard, but the grapes have grown into healthy bunches.
（Chardonnay: photographed on August 14）
This season, rain shelters were installed, and the fruit has grown into healthy bunches with no fruit breakage.
（Riesling: photographed on August 14）
Totto Winery Co.