In fact the beautiful images are of thousands of “crop candles”, lit by French winemakers in a bid save their vines from the plunging temperatures, overnight freezes and even snow.
The flames came from large-sized cans of burning paraffin placed close to the vines to keep them warm.
From Chablis to Champagne, even in the south west around Bordeaux, a biting cold has seen the temperatures fall below 0C.
C'est devenu une habitude… Des bougies placées dans les vignes de Chablis pour lutter contre le gel. Travail exceptionnel de tous les vignerons.
📸 Titouan Rimbault pic.twitter.com/vu4mZXhbAK
— Pierre Barbin (@pierre_bbn) April 6, 2021
Driving through St Emilion this morning can confirm the vineyards were burning brightly in an attempt too keep off the frost
— Franglaise (@luxurygite) April 8, 2021
Seen from above, it looked like the whole fields were on fire.
Watching all the winemakers in Burgundy, Sauternes and the Loire light small fires trying to save this vintage from late frost- Bon courage, mes amis 🤞 pic.twitter.com/oWLS4b6XiV
— Kate Masterofwhine 🕷 (@Masterofwhine) April 7, 2021
“We put around 1,000 candles on three hectares, but we decided not to light them overnight from Monday to Tuesday,” winemaker Claire Lelais in the south of Sarthe, north west France, told the French news site Actu.fr.
“It was cold, but there wasn’t too much humidity.”
A winegrower from the Daniel-Etienne Defaix wine estate near Chablis, Burgundy. Photo: JEFF PACHOUD / AFP
At a price of €10 per candle, she explained that they were unable to protect the whole 350-400 hectares of their fields.
Freezing vines. Photo: Jeff PACHOUD / AFP
But the next night, “the buds were going to be covered with ice,” she said, so they ignited the fires.
“We will know in a few days if it worked,” Lelais said.
Photo: JEFF PACHOUD / AFP
In Champagne, further north, winemaker Basile Pauthier, had spent several nights outside trying to rescue his harvest from the cold.
“Those with Pinot Meunier will be most spared,” he told the wine magazine Vitisphere on Wednesday, explaining that this grape variety was “later than Pinot Noir and especially Chardonnay ”
C'est devenu une habitude…
Des feux allumés dans les #vignes pour lutter contre le #gel nocturne. Comme à #MontlouissurLoire. Un travail exceptionnel. Soutien à tous les #vignerons de notre Région #CentreValdeLoire #timp @RCValdeLoire @fbonneau
📸 Nathalie Pouech pic.twitter.com/YqfkdDJFPx
— Mohamed Moulay (@mkmoulay) April 7, 2021
Pauthier, who also heads the wine projects at the Comité Interprofessionnel de Champagne (CIVC), said he worried most about the areas specialising in white wine.
Thursday was set to be another night of freezing temperatures, and “the worst night” for wine makers in the south, according to Vitisphere.