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Sunday 21 December 2014

Second hail storm ravages Bordeaux

5th August, 2013 by Lucy Shaw

A second hail storm has cut a swath through Bordeaux, destroying virtually the entire crop of around 100 producers.

Vines virtually stripped bare near Espiet in Entre-Deux-Mers

Vines virtually stripped bare near Espiet in Entre-Deux-Mers

The area of Entre-deux-Mers was worst affected by the storm, which hit at around 8.40pm on Friday night and lasted for just 10 minutes.

AFP reports that Bordeaux’s agricultural association, the FDSEA, has estimated that up to 5,000 hectares of vines in the region have been wiped out in the storm, equivalent to 5% of Bordeaux’s annual production.

The vineyards in the eastern Gironde were hit by hailstones “the size of ping-pong balls or quails’ eggs,” FDSEA president Patrick Vasseu told AFP.

Gavin Quinney, owner of Château Bauduc in Entre-Deux-Mers lost “at lest 50%” of his crop to the storm, which, he says, “battered” Entre-Deux-Mers.

Gavin Quinney lost 50% of his crop in the storm

Gavin Quinney lost 50% of his crop in the storm

“The hail came before the thunder and lightening, so there was very little warning,” Quinney told the drinks business.

“The hail that hit our vineyard wasn’t huge – the stones were around the size of a pound coin, but it was the ferocity of the wind that caused them to do so much damage.

“The morning after I examined the war zone and vineyards the other size of the woods to us were trashed. It was breathtaking – there wasn’t a leaf or a grape in sight; everything was stripped bare,” he added.

While Quinney puts his loss at 50%, he thinks it will be likely he’ll only make 25% of his potential annual production this year, as part of his remaining crop is likely to have sustained irreparable damage.

Having suffered three hail storms in five years, Quinney admitted the latest storm has made him take stock about the future.

“As a small business you have to think about what you’re going to do to survive. I’ll have virtually no wine to sell this year and I lost 80% of my crop in 2009.

“There won’t be many grapes going spare to buy this year and I’ll be last in line for them. That option isn’t available to me this year; it’s too late,” he told db.

Neighbouring estate Château Bonnet, owned by André Lurton, was also badly affected by the storm, with Quinney describing the area around the château as a “wasteland”.

Château Bonnet, owned by André Lurton, was also badly hit

Château Bonnet, owned by André Lurton, was also badly hit

“The road between Daignac and Guillac is a wasteland as far as the eye can see, it’s shocking,” he said.

Grape growers in Cognac were also caught up in the storm, with Ugni Blanc grower Michel Martineau reporting hail stones the size of “pétanque balls”.

The general council of the Gironde region is to hold an emergency meeting today at Creon town hall open to all affected by the storm.

According to AFP, the council’s acting chairman, Jean-Marie Darmian, witnessed doves killed by the hailstones.

A number of growers in the Gironde whose grapes were wiped out by the storms are not insured, with Darmian calling for “substantial compensation” for all of those affected.

Last week, gale force winds, heavy rain and hail stones the size of prunes wreaked havoc across vineyards in Bordeaux, Champagne and Cognac.

The storm damaged grapes at Château Lafite and uprooted its willow trees, while the roof of neighbouring Pauillac estate, Pichon Lalande, was significantly damaged.

Champagne also suffered, losing 300 hectares in the villages around Epernay and the Côtes de Blancs to the hail.

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