Hail wreaks “catastrophic” damage in Burgundy

A violent summer hailstorm has caused “catastrophic” damage to vineyards in Burgundy, with up to 70% of the harvest destroyed at a number of estates.

Some estates in Beaune lost up to 90% of their crop in the storm. Credit: Iain Doire

Some estates in Beaune lost up to 90% of their crop in the storm. Credit: Iain Doire

According to AFP, heavy hail, high winds and violent downpours ravaged the region on Tuesday afternoon, with the Côte de Beaune, Meursault, Volnay, Pommard and Savigny-les-Beaune the hardest hit.

The BIVB has confirmed that premier cru vineyards Epenots and Clos des Mouches were both affected

“It’s awful to see these vines ripped by hail and several years of wine growers’ work destroyed by the weather in one afternoon,” said BIVB head Xavier de Volontat.

Thiebault Huber, head of the Volnay wine producers’ union, believes it could take the vineyards up to three years to recover from the damage caused by the storm.

“It’s catastrophic, some operations will not recover,” he told AFP.

Bloomberg meanwhile, reports that some estates in Beanue faced losing 90% of their crop.

Thiebault Huber

Volnay-based Thiebault Huber believes it could take up to three years for some vineyards to recover from the damage caused by the storm

Beaune-based winemaker Jean Yves Devevey described the hailstones as “the size of marbles and ping-pong balls”, and estimated a 70-80% loss of his crop.

“It’s just misery. Some people could go out of business. These guys are working 365 days a year for one harvest to produce something magical, and in a space of two hours, they can lose the lot,” Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy director at Berry Bros & Rudd, told Bloomberg.

Last year, hailstorms destroyed 60% of crops at some Burgundian estates, leading to a 20% drop in production across the region, which hasn’t seen a full-sized harvest since 2009.

After three lower-than-average vintages, Burgundy is facing supply pressures, exacerbated by a growing thirst for the region’s top wines in Asia.

The lower yields have inevitably led to price rises. “Prices are going up all over Burgundy,” David Gleave MW, managing director of Liberty Wines, told db earlier this year.

Gleave predicts that price rises will lead consumers to look to buy from some of the lesser-known villages like Côte Chalonnaise, and value-led villages like Mâcon.

France’s weather service has warned that more storms could be on their way.

Heavy rains earlier this year have led producers in the region to fear the worst for the 2013 vintage, with late flowering due to push the harvest date back by up to a month.

Other wine regions have also been plagued by hail of late – last month hail stones the size of eggs caused serious damage to vineyards in Vouvray, while just last week hail ravaged a number of estates in Provence, with the area of Sainte Victoire in Côtes de Provence the worst hit.

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