IN PICTURES: French vineyards ablaze in bid to ward off frosts

IN PICTURES: French vineyards ablaze in bid to ward off frosts
Anti-frost candles burn at the Daniel-Etienne Defaix wine estate vineyard near Chablis, Burgundy, on April 7th. Photo: Jeff PACHOUD / AFP
To save their harvests from the sudden frost, winemakers in France appear to have set their fields on fire.

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.

Seen from above, it looked like the whole fields were on fire. 

“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.

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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.

READ ALSO: How to choose a good bottle of wine in a French supermarket

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 ”

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.

QUIZ: Are you a connoisseur of French beers, wines and spirits?

Thursday was set to be another night of freezing temperatures, and “the worst night” for wine makers in the south, according to Vitisphere.


Member comments

  1. This morning on the autoroute A11 near Ancenis there was a 15 vehicle crash caused by smoke from a vine owner. The autoroute was closed in both directions .
    I went through this area 10 minutes before this accident and the visibilty was zero in a matter of moments.
    Bright sunshine and drifted smoke.

    So who is liable ?

    Quatre carambolages simultanés sur l’autoroute A11, au niveau de l’aire de Varades, à Loireauxence (Loire-Atlantique), ce jeudi 8 avril, vers 8 h 20. Le quadruple accident, deux dans chaque sens, a impliqué quinze véhicules dont deux poids lourds. Il serait dû à une visibilité quasi-nulle. Parmi ces quinze véhicules, dix n’étaient plus en état de rouler.
    extract from Ouest France news

  2. Does this really work outside? I have an egloo candle (three tealight candles with a ceramic bowl covering it) and this raises the temperature inside by 2 or on a good day three degrees if I keep doors closed in a 10m2 isolated room. Outside you would think the heat just raises up? It is not that those candles are placed close together……. ???? Still looks pretty from the sky!

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