France facing smallest harvest since 1945

29th August, 2017 by Lucy Shaw

Winemakers in France are facing their smallest harvest since 1945 due to the perfect storm of a mild March followed by severe spring frosts in April.

As reported by The Guardian, just 37.2m hectoliters of wine are expected to be made in France year – 18% less than last year, which was also well below average.

“In places where we thought there would be a little less, there’s a lot less,” said Jérôme Despey, head of a governmental wine advisory board.

However, Despey offered a silver lining, revealing that the maturity and good health of the grapes pointed to a year that “will stand out for quality”.

Severe spring frosts in April wiped out entire crops of young buds in vineyards across France, including Champagne, Burgundy and the Loire Valley.

The grape harvest has already begun in southeast France two weeks earlier than usual, with Despey predicting a 40% drop in output from Bordeaux – the country’s largest wine region.

Production in Bordeaux may fall to around 300 million litres of wine, compared to the annual average of 540 million litres.

Hervé Grandeau, chairman of the Federation of the Fine Wines of Bordeaux, has estimated that Bordeaux 2017 prices could rise by 10-20% as a result of the April frosts.

The Right Bank faired much worse than the Left Bank, with the Cotes de Bordeaux and sites around Pomerol and Saint Emilion suffering over 80% crop damage.

In contrast, St-Estephe, Pauillac and St Julien on the Left Bank appear to have experienced minimal damage. This year’s crop from Alsace is also expected to be far smaller than usual.

France experienced extreme heat this year with Beaujolais and the Rhône suffering from an exceptionally dry summer, which will further shrink yields.

One Response to “France facing smallest harvest since 1945”

  1. Charles says:

    I can see big price increases over the hill!

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