Burgundy’s vineyards ravaged by storms





Hailstorms in the prestigious wine growing region of Burgundy have caused “catastrophic” damage to this year’s crop, according to local winemakers.

The violent storms on Tuesday afternoon lacerated the Beaune region during the deluge causing irreparable damage to an area that covers four or five key wine-growing villages including Pommard and Volnay, both of which are renowned for their premier crus. The Guardian suggests some of the worst hit areas are likely to lose 90% of their crop.

The Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne, the local trade body for the area, intimated that the whole Côte de Beaune appellation, an area covering 20km, had been affected by the torrential rains, high winds and large hailstones.

Xavier de Volontat, head of France's independent winemakers, told The Guardian: "It's awful to see these vines ripped by hail and several years of wine growers' work destroyed by the weather in one afternoon."

The same area encountered similar problems last year, while the poor weather during the spring had an equally adverse effect on their crop. Estimates suggest that 75-90% of this year's fruit in the worst hit of those village areas could have been lost.

Jasper Morris, Burgundy director at wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, said: "Four or five villages have all suffered. Some of them produce some pretty prestigious wines that may sell at £50 a bottle retail. It will affect this year's crop.

"Locally, this is a disaster. In the industry as a whole it's bad news, but it's not catastrophic. Overall there will be huge parts of Burgundy that haven't been touched. But in villages such as Pommard or Beaune it's very serious. The real problem is that this is the second year in a row."

A small producer in the Côte de Beaune region admitted that the weather was placing duress on an already fragile industry.

Blair Pethel said: "I've lost more than 50% of my total crop for this year. Emotionally, we've got to carry on. We've put so much work into it. But the mood in the village is not good at all. A lot of people are very concerned. It's two years in a row that major hailstorms have hit the area. The economic conditions in France were already not that good. This doesn't help."

Meanwhile, the tropical heatwave currently embalming Britain looks set to have hugely positive effect on the latest vintage.

Britain’s biggest vineyard, Denbies Wine Estate, in Dorking, Surrey, said it was set to produce their best harvest since the widely acclaimed 2006 vintage.

General manager Christopher White told the London Evening Stanard: “Extended periods without rain do not affect the vines as badly as too much rain,”

“The chalk soil is able to provide the vines with adequate moisture for up to three months, and combined with the intense heat of the past few weeks the timing could not have been better.

“We are hoping that this year will be unprecedented for both yield and quality.”
 
Main image by lyzadanger
 
View images of the damage done in Burgundy here.  
 

Written by: Ben Moss

Ben Moss 

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