As temperatures soar, Languedoc’s vineyards are scorched by the sun

Tuesday July 09 2019 by Vitisphere

 “I have realised the extent of the damage. It's as if a fireball was unleased across the vineyards”, admitted Pierre Pouessel, the local Prefect. “I have realised the extent of the damage. It's as if a fireball was unleased across the vineyards”, admitted Pierre Pouessel, the local Prefect. - Photo credit : Michèle Trévoux

I don't want to talk about it. I’m too upset”. On Monday July 1st, this Hérault winegrower, located in the Grés de Montpellier appellation area was still in shock over the disaster that struck his vineyard in the aftermath of the June 28 heat wave. And he’s not the only one. At Domaine de Roquemale in Villeveyrac, Valérie Ibanez was also shaken. “All my Syrah vines are very badly affected. The vines bordering the scrubland have been scorched. As far as winegrowers can remember, nobody has ever seen anything like it. This has really brought home the dramatic effects of global warming and it's scary”, she said.

At Domaine Saint Jean de l'Arbousier in Castries, Nicolas Viguier, who started farming organically just four years ago on this 38-hectare family estate, is tangibly anxious: “It was probably over 50°C in the sun for 5 to 6 hours. This is alarming because climate events are happening year after year. In 4 years, I have only harvested one normal crop”, he said.

On July 1, the Hérault Chamber of Agriculture convened a crisis unit and organised a field visit in the afternoon to assess the damage with the Prefect, elected officials and industry representatives. “About a third of the department has been strongly impacted by these heat waves, where temperatures rose to between 41 and 45°C. The areas affected are Pic Sant Loup, Grés de Montpellier, the Hérault valley and Faugères”, explained Jérôme Despey, chairman of the Hérault Chamber of Agriculture.

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