French winegrowers fear poor harvest

EPA-EFE/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO

French wine producers gather to protest in Carcassonne, Southern France, 18 October 2017.

French winegrowers fear poor harvest


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Frosty weather in April has wreaked havoc on France’s wine industry. The country’s winegrowers, who finished harvesting their grapes to produce wine for 2017, fear they will not be able to satisfy market demand.

Jérôme Despey, head of a governmental wine advisory board at FranceAgriMer, said this year’s harvest will be “the smallest since 1945”.

“At harvests everywhere, in places where we thought there would be a little less, there’s a lot less,” Despey told a news conference in August.

As reported by FRANCE 24 online, vineyards in the Bordeaux region of southwest France are amongst those hardest hit.

“The spring frost destroyed over half of our harvest and we’ve harvested the weakest quantity since 1991,” Alain Raynaud, president of the Bordeaux group, Cercle Rive Droite des Grands Vins de Bordeaux, told FRANCE 24.

But not all regions were affected to the same extent. “Our Burgundy region was relatively protected but some sectors – such as [the white-wine growing] Chablis, Mâconnais and Châtillonnais – were very affected [by the frost],” said Thomas Nicolet, director of CAVB, a confederation of designations and winegrowers in Burgundy, central-west France. “But apart from those areas, the harvest is beautiful and good, both in quality and quantity.”

Indeed, the hot summer that followed the spring frost has promised to deliver splendid vintages for some winegrowers lucky enough to have been spared the bad spring weather.

Vineyards in northeastern Alsace, which produces mainly white wines, were also badly hit, while those in the south, Beaujolais and the Rhône Valley, suffered an exceptionally dry summer that will further depress yields, according to France’s agriculture ministry.

Meanwhile, France is not alone in forecasting disappointing results for 2017. According to FRANCE 24, Europe’s wine harvest for 2017-2018 is expected to fall by 14% from last year due to the drought in Italy and the heatwave in Spain.

Despite the gloomy predictions, the EU represents 61.2% of global wine production, according to the most recent figures from 2016. However, it faces increasingly more foreign competition from the US (8.7% of wine production), Argentina (5%), Australia (4.8%), China (4.4%), Chile (3.9%), South Africa (3.5%) and New Zealand (1.2%).

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