“It’s still too early to assess the losses”, stated France’s largest agricultural union le Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles, “but it’s already certain that the harvest will be the smallest ever in our country and that the financial losses will be major.”
The French Prime Minister Jean Castex, while visiting the Occitanie region recently, announced Statewide support totalling €1 billion.
This will be broken down into several measures: the urgent need to support farms and businesses in difficulty as a result of this frost (which fell to as low as -6 degrees C in parts of the country on April the 7th and 8th and which affected vineyards from Champagne to the Languedoc) and also the medium-term need to invest in prevention tools. The €1 billion sum will also be used for achieving a longer-term goal of finding more lasting insurance solutions.
The freezing temperatures were problematic for vines because early Spring warmth had accelerated the traditional growing cycle so that early-budding grapes were susceptible to the sudden sharp frost.
Some growers report losing almost 90% of their vintage with only one bunch in six surviving.
Yields are expected to range between 30% and 80% of normal while Burgundy is likely to lose at least half of this year’s crop while the Champagne region suffered losses of only 20%, it’s estimated.
French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie described the frosts as “probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st Century.”
Here in Ireland, a spokesperson for Business France was unable to offer any view as to what the effect the frosts would ultimately have on the Irish wine market.
“I wish I had the answer” she told Drinks Industry Ireland, “but I’m afraid it’s a tricky to predict the exact impact of the frost on French wine exports in Ireland. We will, of course, have a better idea after the harvest.”