Hailstorms ravage parts of France's Bordeaux vineyards

BORDEAUX • Violent hailstorms ravaged parts of the Bordeaux wine region in south-western France last Saturday, causing major damage in hundreds of vineyards, with thousands of hectares of vines destroyed, producers said yesterday.

This comes just a year after the Bordeaux region suffered one of its worst harvests in history, with a fall of 39 per cent year on year due to late frosts, which lead to a jump in prices.

The hail first hit the south of the region last Saturday at midday, affecting the Pessac-Leognan region and the south of Medoc, home to some of the region's most famous chateaux, said Mr Bernard Farges, head of the Bordeaux producers' union CIVB.

It then devastated vineyards of Cotes de Bourg and Cotes de Blaye on the right bank of the Gironde river and, farther east, in the Gensac and Pessac-sur-Dordogne.

"It's a shock. It was a hailstorm of unprecedented violence for 10 minutes," Mr Didier Gontier, head of a winegrowers association in the Cotes de Bourg area, told Franceinfo radio on Sunday.

The vineyard of Cognac was also hit by hail.

Officials mentioned an initial figure of 10,000ha affected - out of a total 70,000ha. The winegrowers had also been affected by frosts last year.

"The figures... which will have to be refined, show that between 500 and more than 1,000 winegrowers have been affected, with an area hit of 1,000ha in the Medoc, between 4,000ha and 5,000ha for Cotes de Blaye and Cotes de Bourg, and about 1,000ha in the vicinity of Gensac," Mr Farges told Reuters.

Some winemakers lost 100 per cent of their harvests, he added.

There are 112,000ha of vines in the Bordeaux vineyard, the second-largest wine-producing region in France after Languedoc Roussillon.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2018, with the headline 'Hailstorms ravage parts of France's Bordeaux vineyards'. Print Edition | Subscribe