Extreme weather harms French vineyards

The Ministry of Agriculture in France has announced that the country’s wine output may fall by as much as 13% following weather conditions including hail, frost and a record-breaking heatwave.

Vineyards in Bordeaux

The ministry’s first forecast earlier this year estimated production in a range of 42.8 million to 46.4 million hectolitres, down 6-13% from 49.4 million in 2018, reports Reuters.

Representing 100 litres, a hectolitre is the equivalent to around 133 wine bottles.

The ministry’s initial 2019 forecast range was also 2 – 5% below the average production of the previous 5 years.

The ministry said: “In many vineyards, flowering occurred in unfavourable weather conditions. Heat and hail have also contributed to a decline in production potential.”

Western growing regions such as Bordeaux were particularly affected by flowering conditions during spring, while some southern areas saw grapes scorched during a heatwave last month.

At the end of June, France recorded its highest-ever temperature at 45.9 degrees Celsius or 114.6° Fahrenheit.

The farm ministry noted that soil moisture levels in most wine regions were below normal with lack of rain worsening drought conditions in parts of the country.

As with hail, frost caused localised damage this year, including in the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions.

In contrast, the Champagne area saw good flowering conditions and limited weather damage, although production was still expected to be below last year’s.

Due to uncertainty over weather conditions, the ministry’s estimates are said to be tentative until the harvest in late summer and early autumn.

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