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Heat-struck Italy forced to harvest wine grapes early

By AP Reporters

The Italian wine grape harvest is having its earliest start in a decade due to the effects of the summer's heatwave and drought.

Producers of bubbly spumante in the Franciacorta area of Lombardy, 50 miles east of Milan, officially launched the 2017 harvest yesterday, which is 10 days earlier than last year.

"Every year we need to pay close attention to the vine. There is no longer certainty on when to harvest," said Claudio Faccoli, a winemaker whose label produces 55,000 bottles a year.

"We need to keep an eye on the climatic situation."

The Coldiretti agricultural lobby said Italian wine production was expected to be 10-15% lower than last year due to weather conditions, which included an early bloom followed by a late frost in some areas, while violent hailstorms struck elsewhere.

Last year, Italy produced 5.16 billion litres of wine.

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