AS Binissalem starts preparations for its annual wine harvest festival at the end of the month, local farmers are expressing concerns about the quality of the grapes. Pere Calafat, the secretary general of the Farmers Union and a vintner, said that they would have to start picking the grapes urgently to prevent diseases spreading. Mildew has already made its appearance, he said. He added that while the effect of diseases could be paliated by fast, efficient treatment, it seems inevitable that this year's wine will have a lower strength because the grapes have not ripened sufficiently, due to the heavy rains and moderate temperatures. According to Calafat, the grapes will have to be picked on two separate occasions, separating the good grapes from those which are not so good. We have to be careful of all grapes in poor conditions because one rotten grape can destroy all the others. Majorcan wines have been gaining in reputation over the past few years, and vintners are worrying about the effect of the poor weather on this year's wines. However, it will not stop the town of Binissalem putting on its annual festival at the end of the month, when the grapes are trodden in the traditional manner on the steps of the church, and there is free wine for all. The festival, which attracts visitors from all over the island, also includes concerts, exhibitions and dancing.