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Neuchâtel wine festival blessed with sunny skies

Warm temperatures attracted thousands of people to the wine festival

(Keystone)

Several thousand visitors attended the annual winegrowers festival in Neuchâtel, which took place under sunny skies this weekend. This years' new additions were three love mobiles for the younger spectators.

Blue skies and warm temperatures attracted more than thirty thousand visitors to come out and celebrate the 76th annual wine festival in Neuchâtel this weekend.

The event, which has been going since 1902, is famous for its floral floats as it is the only procession in Europe where they are decorated with real flowers. Hundreds of thousands of plants are used to create all kinds of scenes.

However, the festival is not just about the parades. The organisers like to emphasise the convivial atmosphere that surrounds the fete.

In terms of security, the city authorities saw the festival as a rehearsal for the Expo 02., which will be hosted in Switzerland next year. More than 500 police officers manned the route of the procession, but there were no reports of any serious trouble during the three-day celebrations.

Low quality vintage

However, many winegrowers have good reason not to be in the mood to celebrate, as this year's wine is not expected to be anything special. Preliminary tests have shown the 2001 vintage will be of low quality, and harvesting has been delayed by the slow ripening of the grapes.

Wine specialists blame the reduced quality on the recent rain and lower sugar content in the grapes. Rainfall was much higher than usual this year and the grapes have taken on too much extra weight as a result.

Reduced sugar levels also mean the expected alcohol content for both red and white wines will be below last year's figures. Actual alcohol volume is thought to be between seven and eight per cent, slightly above the accepted minimum levels for table wines.

swissinfo with agencies


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