Catastrophic damage. Lacerated vines. Severe frost. This past week’s reports out of France read like a doomsday novel for anyone who loves a nice Grand Cru. Growers in Burgundy light fires to save their prized vines.
French wine growers know all too well how unpredictable weather can wreak havoc on their growing season. This year mother nature turned it up a notch. Severe frost from Burgundy to Loire forced vineyard owners to take drastic measures. In the Loire Valley growers used sprinklers to coat their vines with ice to insulate them against even colder temperatures. Budding vines in Champagne suffered under a fresh blanket of snow and a severe hailstorm in Beaune sliced through new growth on vines in Pommard, Volnay, and Mâconnais.
Meanwhile crews in Burgundy took more drastic measures. From far away it looks like a pleasant scene of Christmas lights.
Up close it’s a much different story, as crews lit torches in the vineyards to protect against the frost.
Caroline Parent-Gros, of Domaine AF Gros in Pommard told Decanter “Such a frost is unseen since 1981 and it could have consequences not only on the yields of the Burgundy 2016 harvest but also on the yields of 2017.” In Mâconnais and Pouilly-Fuisse the budding vines were so badly damaged by hail that a few vineyards estimate near 100% loss. Jean-Philippe Bret told Decanter he hopes the vines will recover with secondary bud growth, but the next few weeks will be crucial.
These incredible photos were taken by Aurélien Ibanez, a photographer based in Burgundy. You can see more of them on his Facebook page.
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