Burgundy vineyards face ‘catastrophe’ after storms

Prestigious vineyards in France's famous wine region of Burgundy's were devastated by hail storms this week. It is the second year running the famous wine region has been hit by storms, with one producer calling it a "catastrophe". More storms are forecast.

Burgundy vineyards face 'catastrophe' after storms
Storms have devastated vineyards in Burgundy. File photo: Nicolas Tucat/AFP

A summer hailstorm has caused "catastrophic" damage to prestigious vineyards in France's Burgundy region, with up to 70 percent of crops destroyed on some estates, local wine producers said on Wednesday.

The storms on Tuesday, which saw strong hail accompanied by high winds, caused widespread damage in some of France's most well-known wine areas, including Côte de Beaune, Volnay, Pommard and Savigny-les-Beaune.

"It's catastrophic, some operations will not recover. There are losses of at least 30-40 percent, and that could rise to 70 percent," said Thiebault Huber, the head of the Volnay wine producers' union.

He said such heavy hail could do damage to vineyards that can last up to three years.

Jean-Louis Moissonet president of the Pommard wine makers union said: “The area between Beaune and Pommard is most affected. All the premiers crus are affected. It’s a disaster.”

Pommard is one of Burgundy's most famous wines.

The storm was the latest in a string of difficulties to hit Burgundy wine producers, including flooding in the spring and hailstorms last year that destroyed 60 percent of crops on some estates.

 “Last year the harvest was 60 percent down and this year it will be 70 or 80 percent down,” said Moissonet, who is to ask the regional authorities to declare a natural disaster for the sector.

According to union rep Caroline Chenu it was just as bad in Savigny-les-Beaune, where 40 to 50 percent losses have been reported in most areas although some vineyards higher up have lost 80 percent of the grapes.

Wine growers are quickly trying to treat the vines so that they are not ruined by disease after the storms.

Two people were also hospitalised after Tuesday's storm.

And it could yet get worse for Burgundy's wine growers. France's weather service was warning that more storms could hit on Wednesday.

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