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Hailstones Shred French Burgundy Vineyards

Severe storms and hail lashed France's Burgundy wine region leading to losses of up to 90 percent and threatening output for both the 2013 and 2014 vintages, producers said on Wednesday.

PARIS (Reuters) - Severe storms and hail lashed France's Burgundy wine region leading to losses of up to 90 percent and threatening output for both the 2013 and 2014 vintages, producers said on Wednesday.

Growers and officials were still assessing the impact of Tuesday's storms on the vines, with damage anywhere between 10-90 percent in the Beaune region, but the Burgundy Wine Board (BIVB) said the Pommard and Volnay areas were the worst hit.

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

"Damage will be severe, which means that the 2013 vintage due to come out in 2015-2016 will become much rarer," he said.

Jean-Rene Nudant, a wine maker with vineyards in several parts of Burgundy, including Meursault where the BIVB pegs losses at 40 percent, and Volnay where losses reach between 50 and 70 percent, hoped the sun could aid a partial recovery.

"There were hailstones as big as the tip of a thumb," he said, estimating a fall in output of between 10-20 percent for next year's harvest.

Burgundy was the 7th largest wine producing region in France in 2011 and produced by far its most expensive wine, with an average supermarket price in 2011 of 8.70 euros ($11.50) per liter against 6.3 euros ($8.30) for Bordeaux.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide and Catherine Lagrange in Lyon; editing by Mark John)

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