After an extreme frost hit vineyards across the country earlier this month, one of France’s most important export businesses was dealt a terrible blow, compounding the suffering already being felt by winemakers due to the flu pandemic and US trade sanctions.
As a result, according to the European Committee of Wine Companies, the frost has harmed 80 percent of vines in France’s critical wine-growing regions, with crop losses predicted in some places to reach as high as 50 percent,” the organization said.
The devastation spread to the Bordeaux, Rhone Valley, Burgundy, Champagne, Provence, and the Loire Valley regions of France.
According to the winemaker, there will be very few grapes in some areas, and the frost in Cornas is the worst it has been in more than half a century.
Heating the vineyards
Winemakers attempted to raise the air temperature in their vineyards by lighting candles and braziers, but in many cases, this was not enough to protect their blossoming vines from frost.
There has been a significant reduction in the harvesting capacity. The time to give a percentage estimate is too early, but in any case, the winegrowers who have been affected have suffered a terrible loss. According to the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions, the frost also threatens other crops, such as beets and rapeseed. Since 1991, farms have not experienced a meteorological event with such disastrous consequences.
The French Ministry of Agriculture and Food triggered its “agricultural calamities” program last week, activating tax breaks and other financial assistance for farmers suffering from natural disasters. On Monday, government authorities convened an emergency meeting with bankers, insurers, and representatives from the agriculture sector to find new support options.
The problem comes at a challenging moment for French wineries, which are experiencing lower sales due to coronavirus lockdowns in major international markets and a drop in tourism as a result of the pandemic’s impact on the tourism industry.
According to the French government, exports of French wine and spirits will fall by roughly 14 percent to €12.1 billion ($14.5 billion) in 2020.
Winemakers are dealing with the effects of climate change.
The ice was highly harmful to winemakers. Because the frost was preceded by exceptionally high temperatures, which caused vines to grow quicker and earlier than usual, making them more sensitive to the cold.
In less than a week, temperatures in the Champagne region plummeted from approximately 26 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) to nearly minus 6 degrees Celsius (22 degrees Fahrenheit) and back again. Plants are more vulnerable to harm from cold spells because of climate change, which has shifted growing seasons forward in France and other parts of the world.
According to the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions, the incident serves as a sharp reminder of the significance of preventive measures and a risk management regime that is responsive to the climate change problem.