Italian wine harvest begins, productive year forecast

FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2007 file photo, a worker picks grapes for harvest in the vineyards of Castelcerino, above the village of Soave, Northern Italy. The Italian wine grape harvest season has started with the picking of Pinot and Chardonnay grapes in the northern region of Franciacorta, anticipating a better year after the weak production figures of 2017. (AP Photo/Martino Masotto)

ROME — The Italian wine grape harvest season has started with Pinot and Chardonnay grapes in the northern Lombardy's Franciacorta region, with experts anticipating a better year after an especially weak 2017.

The Coldiretti agricultural lobby said Friday that it's expecting a 15 percent increase in wine production this season to 4.6 billion liters (1.2 billion gallons), from 4 billion liters (over 1 billion gallons) last year.

The higher production this year is due to a greater abundance of rain in key regions, while last year heat and drought combined for one of the lowest post-war yields.

Coldiretti forecast a 5.9 percent increase in wine exports this year. In 2017, export revenues reached 6 billion euros ($6.8 billion).

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