Unseasonable Hailstorms Ravage French Bordeaux Vineyards

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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Unseasonable Hailstorms Ravage French Bordeaux Vineyards

Violent hailstorms ravaged parts of the Bordeaux wine region in south-western France on Saturday, causing major damage in hundreds of vineyards, with thousands of hectares of vines destroyed, producers said on Monday.

This comes just a year after the Bordeaux region suffered one of its worst harvests in history, with a fall of 39% on year due to late frosts, which led to a jump in prices.

The hail first hit the south of the region on Saturday at midday, affecting the Pessac-Léognan region and the south of Médoc, home to some of the region's most famous chateaux, said Bernard Farges, head of Bordeaux producers' union CIVB.

It then devastated the vineyards of Côtes de Bourg and Côtes de Blaye on the right bank of the Gironde river and, further east, in the Gensac and Pessac-sur-Dordogne.

The vineyard of Cognac was also hit by hail. Officials mention an initial figure of 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) affected, out of a total 70,000 hectares. They had also been affected by frosts last year.


Affected Growers

"The figures [...] which will have to be refined, show that between 500 and more than 1,000 wine growers have been affected, with an area hit of 1,000 hectares in the Médoc, between 4,000 and 5,000 hectares for Côtes de Blaye and Côtes de Bourg, and about 1,000 hectares in the vicinity of Gensac," Farges told Reuters.

Some winemakers lost 100% of their harvest, he said.

There are 112,000 hectares of vines in the entire Bordeaux vineyard, the second-largest wine-producing region in France, after Languedoc-Roussillon.

Last year, France's total production had fallen to a record low due to a series of poor weather incidents including spring frosts, drought and storms, which affected most of the main growing regions, including Bordeaux and Champagne.


Bordeaux wine prices rose by 16% in the first six months of the 2017/18 season, farm ministry data released in March showed.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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