Germany's winemakers are expecting another impressive harvest this year.

In a report today (11 September), the German Wine Institute (DWI) noted that the relatively cool spring gave way to accelerated vine growth during July's hot and sunny spell. The DWI also confirmed that the vines are in a healthy condition as they enter their last stage of development.

"June and July were dry and sunny but the rain in August, although needed after the drought of the previous months, did delay the ripening of the grapes," said winemaker Thomas Loosen from Weingut Dr Loosen in the Mosel.

"We are expecting to start harvest in November so conditions in September and October will still have a big part to play in determining the final ripeness of the grapes. At the moment it looks as though the quality will be good."

Looking at the Pfalz and Rheinhessen regions, chief winemaker at Binderer St Ursula Karsten Weynand said: "The grapes are ripe enough to allow the harvest for Federweisser (fermenting grape juice) to start in the next couple of weeks. The hot and dry June and July gave grapes a head start and it looks as though the yield will be greater than last year."

Weynand also noted that September has got off to a good start with a daytime temperature of 23-25°C and cold nights, making it ideal for increasing sugar levels without losing aroma and acidity in the fruit.

"If these conditions continue 2006 will be a very good vintage," Weynand added.