French harvest among smallest in 30 years

A perfect storm of hail, mildew and spring frosts have ravaged vineyards in France resulting in one of the smallest harvests in the country for the last 30 years.

white-grape-harvest

Data estimates released by the French agriculture ministry this week puts the 2016 harvest in France at 43.2 million hectolitres, down by 10% on 2015 and 6% lower than the average harvest over the last five years.

The ministry described the result as “one of the weakest harvests for 30 years”, blaming spring frosts in Champagne, Burgundy and the Loire Valley for the slump.

Champagne was one of the worst hit regions after several bouts of spring frost and hailstorms that dragged output down by as much as a third.

Areas of Chablis and Chiroubles were badly hit, with organic winemakers particularly suffering, though Bordeaux and Alsace enjoyed bumper crops.

“This isn’t so much a harvest as a hunt for grapes. It’s a catastrophe, the worst harvest for 30 years,” Burgundian winemaker Jean-Jacques Robert told The Independent having lost nearly 75% of his crop during a hailstorm in April.

In the Loire Valley, late spring frosts wiped out up to 30% of its harvest, with temperatures dropping to as low as -6°C as frost bit not only across the Loire, but in Burgundy and the Languedoc.

However French wine exports remain strong, accounting for 29% of the global export market with a value of €8.2bn in 2015.

France is the world’s top wine exporter by value, accounting for 29% of the market at €8.2bn($9.1bn) in 2015. In terms of volume, France is the third largest exporter, shipping 14m hectolitres in 2015.

Back in September db reported that Burgundy was bracing itself for a small harvest with yields predicted to dip by around 25% due to spring frosts.

Frosts in late April were described as the most severe since the early 1980s, which were reported to have hit the entire length of Burgundy from Chablis to the Maconnais, including many areas that normally escape similar freezes.

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