Bordeaux vines get swept away in landslide

Monday March 08 2021 by Vitisphere

 Heavy rains wreaked havoc in the vineyards of two Gironde winegrowers Heavy rains wreaked havoc in the vineyards of two Gironde winegrowers - Photo credit : Jean-Christophe Darriet

One afternoon at the beginning of February, Jean-Christophe Darriet who heads up Château Dauphiné Rondillon in Loupiac, went to one of his hillside vineyards in Rondillon to prune his vines only to be devastated by what he saw – the wires were broken, the posts had been pulled out and there were substantial cracks in the ground. As a result of non-stop rain, a major landslide had occurred in two vineyards. On the first 1.5-hectare plot, the grower reported that half of the land had been significantly displaced and half a hectare was impassable. On the other 1-hectare plot, the headlands over one quarter of a hectare were totally destroyed. “Overall, 4,000 Semillon vines between 10 and 15 years old have to be pulled up. I hope to be able to replant, but first we're going to let the soil rest”, commented Darriet, who intends to undertake ground works in the vineyards and continue to install drainage systems, due to the clay and limestone soils. “We can’t stop water so we have to stabilise the soils”, he said several times.

The overall investment, including the cost of replanting, ground works and drainage could be around €40,000 /ha, and insurance companies do not cover the costs. Lionel Bord of the namesake vineyards had a similar experience. Over 2 hectares, the sloping ground slipped over 0.6 hectares where 300 young vines were planted. “When I got to the vineyard, it was an unbelievable sight. There was subsidence of 1.50 metres among the vines. They had been pushed 3 to 4 metres”, he explained, adding: “I will never plant again in this spot, even though it has a great aspect, with clay and limestone soil. About thirty rows will be turned into meadows”, he said. The only thing left to do is pull the vines. Despite it all, Lionel Bord remains in good spirits: “At 68 years old, I have already experienced storms. Nature is stronger than we are”, he said. A natural disaster was declared on 19 February for the village of Loupiac.

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