Italian wine harvest begins 10 days early with heat, drought

The Italian 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 in northern Italy start to gather grapes Friday, 10 days before last year's harvest began.

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

Last year, Italy produced 5.16 billion liters of wine. Coldiretti said this year's production would depend on weather conditions in the coming months. The harvest begins with pinot and chardonnay and continues into November with heartier red wine grapes.