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“Apocalyptic” hail storms in French wine regions

By Vitisphere June 10, 2022
“Apocalyptic” hail storms in French wine regions
“This is a real seismic event for the winegrowers affected”, warns Jérôme Despey, chairman of FranceAgriMer's specialist wine board. - crédit photo : Alexandre Abellan (Vitisphere)

ailstorms that decimated whole chunks of French vineyards at Whitsun have dashed the hopes of winegrowers who had aimed to fully replenish stocks of grapes and wine after last year’s void.   Hailstones knocked growing leaves and emerging grape clusters for this year’s crop to the ground in the vineyards of Bordeaux, Bergerac, Gascony, the Loire Valley, Savoy and Roussillon.

In South-West France, hailstones annihilated growth across thousands of hectares of vines in the Gers and Landes departments. “It was apocalyptic, with hailstones the size of marbles, with no water. The storm travelled from the greater Bas Armagnac area up to Condom”, lamented Patrick Farbos, chairman of the Armagnac marketing bureau, who reported significant losses on vines, but also for maize and sunflowers. Although AOC Armagnac has been badly affected, so too has IGP Côtes de Gascogne. “It's terrible: the grapes were skinned and scraped”, comments Joël Boueilh, chairman of the wine branch of the agricultural co-operative organisation. “We will not be able to supply certain customers”, stressed the former chairman of the Plaimont co-operative winery.

If ever we don't make it past this year, the insurance companies will be to blame. They have put pressure on us and changed the terms of our contracts, with an increase in premiums, a rise in the excess from 10 to 20% and no buy-back of yields, etc.”, said a categorical David Piquemal, from Domaine de Danis which has 40 hectares under vine in Castelnau d'Auzan, Gers. Reporting a 100% loss, he walked through vines that looked as though they had been pruned: “It's winter, honestly. It will grow back, but I’ll have losses the following year, as flower induction occurs in June and July”.

Freak years will be those without adverse weather”, warned Jean-Marie Fabre, chairman of the French independent winegrowers’ organisation, who is calling for international rules defining the Olympic average to be changed. He is also asking for national grants for investments in preventing weather hazards “to secure prevention and protection equipment against hail (using canons, balloons and nets) over the next few years, but also against frost and lack of water (hillside reservoirs, irrigation connections, roll-out of drip irrigation, etc.)”. Ironically, while some wine regions have just been hit by torrential rain, others have been waiting for rain for months, from Provence to Alsace.

All Comments (1)
Deborah J Lewis Le 12 juin 2022 à 00:14:33
I am sorry to hear this news. I always buy French vines in the USA. I enjoyed living in France in the 90's. Hope you can rectify the problem as soon as possible.
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