Sad to report that frosts have continued to damage the vineyards of France (and elsewhere) since I first reported on them 10 days ago. Virtually every night in regions such as the Loire and Chablis vignerons have lit fires, used helicopters to circulate the air, sprayed the buds with water to keep them at 0º rather than the colder air temperatures. For all that, nature will prevail and damage to the vineyards has mounted with vignerons facing wipeout in some of their vineyards and heavy losses in others.
Sadly the Languedoc has not been immune. I have heard reports of damage in Aspiran, Caux and elsewhere including to friends’ vines. I can only sympathise as they face a significant loss of income and wine. It is suggested that the Hérault will lose 20% of its production this year. Midi Libre included this map showing the affected areas. Jeff has had a few vines touched but, happily, there are no real losses.
Areas such as Fronton and Gaillac in the South West, Bugey to the east of Burgundy and in the foothills of the Alps have seen even greater losses and these are regions where viticulteurs struggle to make a living in good years.
Bordeaux has been affected too in recent nights and whilst the big chateaux have been employing the helicopters and braziers smaller vignerons have had to cope as best they could. I was rather annoyed to see one very well known wine writer’s response to this news being to express concern about prices rather than the welfare of the vignerons.
The early spring which promoted bud growth has made this cold spell especially damaging and disastrous. Spring frosts are not unusual, tradition dictates that they are a risk until the Saints De Glaces, this year from May 11 to 13. It was the warm weather of early April which made the vines vulnerable. Climate change? A precocious year? Whatever, the suffering is all too real.
Update Saturday 29th, a 4th episode
April 28, 2017 at 1:02 pm
Wink posted a pic this morning of midwinter levels of snow at Le Grand Bornand in the Alps. We had no rain at all this month, then two big hail storms in the past couple of days. But as reports of frosts come in (as you have mentioned) we can only curse those responsible for this unseasonable weather. And you can be sure that it is we humans who are responsible, whatever the climate change deniers say.
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April 28, 2017 at 1:10 pm
Indeed, I suspect that is the case. There will always have been years like this but the climate is so much more unpredictable. More arguments for organic practices and lighter bottles (yes I am still banging on about that!)
April 28, 2017 at 7:34 pm
I’ve been following the reports on what seems like France-wide frosts recently, and it is greatly concerning for all involved. Strangely, the worst frosts (in Languedoc, at least) appear to have been in the valleys rather than the hills(!) Clearly, some growers have suffered greater damage than others, but let’s hope that they can at least make *some* wine this year. Glad to hear that Jeff has escaped relatively unscathed.
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