Wine production in France slides to record low as grape harvest shrivels

A wine grower checks his vineyards partially destroyed by the frost of late April cold nights on May 3, 2017 in Vignonet.
A wine grower checks his vineyards partially destroyed by the frost of late April cold nights on May 3, 2017 in Vignonet. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Knocked off course by a cold spring snap, French wine production this year slid to a record low, falling 17 per cent on 2016, initial ministry of agriculture projections show.

"At 37.6 million hectolitres (993.3 million gallons) the 2017 harvest is set to come in 17 per cent lower than in 2016 and 16 per cent below the average of the past five years," the ministry's statistics bureau Agreste said Saturday.

As such, the traditional August to October harvest of the second largest global producer will come in "historically low and below that of 1991, which was also hit by severe frost."

The cold wrought havoc notably in the South West, with Bordeaux suffering along with neighbouring Charente but also Alsace in the north-east and between the Burgundy region and Switzerland.

Even the deep south did not escape, with the Languedoc region also affected.

The Mediterranean region was hit by a problem of a different variety as wind and rain caused the phenomenon of "coulure" where grapes, most notably the grenache variety, fail to develop properly after vines have flowered.