‘Violent tornado of hail’ damages vineyards across France and Switzerland

A storm, which hit France over the weekend with hailstones the size of tennis balls, is estimated to have caused tens of millions of euros of damage, particularly affecting vineyards of Crozes-Hermitage, St Joseph, Savoie and Switzerland.

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A violent storm, which has been described as “unprecedented”, hit parts of France on 15 June, and despite only lasting between 15 and 20 minutes, has caused severe damage for vine and fruit growers in certain regions. Heavy rain, hail and wind speeds as high as 100km per hour were recorded.

Hailstones up to around 7cm in diameter fell across the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, the department of Lozère and even as far north as the Loire Valley.

It is believed that vineyards in Crozes-Hermitage in the northern Rhône Valley have been particularly effected, with some early estimates stating that losses could be as much as half. Vineyards around La Roche-de-Glun and Beaumont-Monteux are reported to be worst hit.

Also caught in the storm was St Joseph, particularly the vineyards around Mauves, and also vines in Switzerland around Geneva. However, Cornas, St-Péray and Hermitage are reported to be largely unscathed, according to French media.

French agricultural union FNSEA estimates that the storm has caused “tens of millions of euros in damage”.

“We will undoubtedly reach tens of millions of euros of damage,” said Michel Joux, president of FRSEA, regional branch of the FNSEA, who told the press that more precise figures would be available at the end of this week.

“There will be an impact on the harvests for this year but also losses because many trees and vines have been torn off or heavily damaged,” he told the French media.

Minister of agriculture, Didier Guillaume, who visited the affected regions, told BFMTV: “I have rarely seen episodes like this, the situation is really dramatic.”

Writing on Twitter he said his sympathies were with all those affected by what he called the “violent tornado of hail”. After visiting the affected farms and vineyards, he called the storm “exceptional” and said that the state will “mobilise all means to ensure that no farmer has to close his farm following this climatic disaster”.

The storms also caused flash flooding and the hailstones were so large in some areas that they smashed windows and damaged buildings and cars, particularly in the storm’s epicentre Romans-sur-Isere. A 51-year-old German tourist is believed to have died in the storms in the Haute-Savoie department.

the drinks business has contacted Inter Rhône for comment.

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