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Bordeaux appellations affected by heatwaves allowed to irrigate

Three appellations in Bordeaux have been allowed to irrigate their vines in the face of low rainfall and repeated heatwaves, despite irrigation normally being forbidden in the region. 

landscape view of Saint Emilion village in Bordeaux region in France

Pessac-Léognan, Pomerol and Saint-Emilion were all granted permission to irrigate their vines in order to combat “hydric stress” on younger vines,  agency APF said, which deprives vines of enough water to flourish, leading them to accumulate sugar more slowly, thereby delaying ripening and harvest.

Although under normal conditions irrigation is prohibited in vineyards from 1 May until the harvest, vine growers can apply for a derogation to irrigate vines, particularly younger vines that aren’t fully established. This is allowed only in times of persistent drought and when the drought “disrupts the good physiological development of the vine and ripening of the grapes”, it said.

Furthermore, the derogation requires that the water used to irrigate does not come from the network itself, but requires growers to rely on wells and other providers.

Météo France has claimed that this July is the driest since 1959, with very little rainfall since June, and production in Bordeaux is already expected to fall below the five-year average as a result of spring frost and hail damage.

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