Volume of wine approved: 243,275,767 million litres.
- Red wine: 199.99 million litres.
- White wine: 19.55 million litres.
- Rosé wine: 23.74 million litres.
The 1996 growth cycle developed under perfect conditions, with suitable rainfall and excellent health of the vines. This pointed by late August to an excellent harvest both in terms of quantity and quality. However, irregular weather during the harvest in September and October slowed down ripening and increased the volume. The winegrowers had to pay very special attention to the grape health during these periods and the bodegas had to programme the harvest very carefully.
A mild autumn and winter, with some frosts in November which affected the buds at the end of the previous cycle, were followed by a very cold spring which considerably slowed down vine evolution, and budding began unevenly. Rainfall from October to May was higher than average but well distributed throughout the Wine region. Temperatures rose in April and May and the vineyards recovered from their slow start. By early June, setting was almost over in the Tempranillo in Rioja Baja while the vines in Rioja Alta and Alavesa were in full bloom. General health was assessed as very good, with no major pests or diseases.
Towards the end of August, the vineyards were in excellent health and the grapes were well-developed and fat, pointing to a good harvest. September came in with moderate temperatures, and frequent although not very intense rains delayed the beginning of harvest, which did not become generalised until late September and early October.
The noticeable increase in production that has become evident during the last harvests in Rioja is not only due to favourable weather conditions but also to increasingly more modern viticultural practices which are resulting in yields considered ideal by European viticulture: around 50 hectolitres per hectare. It can therefore be asserted that the overall quality of Rioja wines has increased significantly over the past few years, as low productions resulting from deficient tilling practices or weather conditions have never been a synonym of quality.
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