Electrically heated cables return to Chablis to ward off frost

Thursday July 02 2020 by Vitisphere

 “The system's power of 120 to 140 kW/ha guarantees efficiency down to -10°C. When it is switched on, the temperature is kept at between 15 and 20°C along the trellising wire”, explains Fabien Queffelec. “The system's power of 120 to 140 kW/ha guarantees efficiency down to -10°C. When it is switched on, the temperature is kept at between 15 and 20°C along the trellising wire”, explains Fabien Queffelec.

Next spring, workers at Château Grenouilles, owned by La Chablisienne, will not need to be constantly on hand to light candles or heaters when frost is forecast. In February, Prysmian, a company based in the Yonne area, will dig trenches for them to install ‘Senowatt’ low-voltage heating cables. “We'll roll out the cables over our two most frost-prone hectares. With a neighbour, we're going to create a 4-hectare block”, explains Christophe Lecompte, the co-operative's vineyard manager.

The cable has a Senowatt sheath that is weather-proof and resistant to UV light and chemical treatments. It is fixed along the trellising and connected to a waterproof distribution cabinet. It is quick to install. “Winegrowers can do it themselves. We provide them with 1 km long cables that they connect in a loop without connectors”, explains Fabien Queffelec, Industry & Specialities Director at Prysmian. The company also claims that the system requires no maintenance afterwards.

Four projects are underway in the area. An agricultural equipment co-operative is currently being set up in Maligny to cover around twenty hectares. As Christophe Lecompte points out, the technology is not new. “It was developed at the end of the 1990s in Muscadet. It arrived in Chablis at the beginning of the 2000s but went unnoticed because we didn't have any frost until 2016”.

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