French vineyards alert of possible frost damage

French vineyards alert of possible frost damage

Temperatures continue to drop across France as more winemakers report concerns of frost damage in the vineyards.

The Inter Rhône trade body reported that the whole of the Rhône has been hit dramatically and that ‘some plots are affected 100%.’

‘We already know that some sectors have been affected in their entirety,’ said Philippe Pellaton, President of Inter-Rhône.

‘We will not be able to measure the real impact of this frost episode until the next 24 to 48 hours’.

The French council for appellation wines (CNIV) are concerned the worst is not yet over, stating that ‘temperatures have dropped to -7 ° C in places and further episodes of frost are to be feared in the days to come.’

‘It is still too early to know precisely the extent of the damage, but 80% of regions have been affected’, said Jean-Marie Barillère, President of the CNIV.

April 8th Frost

 There were growing fears that frost may have caused significant damage to French vineyards in several regions this week. 

Many winemakers have lit candles and controlled fires next to rows of vines in order to help protect the emerging 2021 crop from a sudden drop in temperatures. Aerial photos on social media showed hundreds of candles lit across vineyards.

Some producers also launched helicopters to fly above their vineyards, a method that can help to prevent frost by encouraging warm air to circulate. 

There were particular concerns on Thursday (8 April) about vineyards in Bordeaux and Burgundy, although winemakers cautioned that the full picture was still unclear.

Bordeaux’s regional wine council, the CIVB, said damage was still being assessed but that ‘it is already certain that this spring frost will severely impact the volume of the 2021 harvest’.

‘Bourgogne winegrowers did what they could to fight, but each period of frost was too long and the temperatures were too low. Nature has been stronger than us.’

Source: Decanter

French wine exports decline in 2020

French wine exports decline in 2020

French wine and spirits exports fell by 13.9% to just under €12.1bn in 2020, said the FEVS trade body on 11 February.

That means the value of orders fell back to 2016 levels, it said, citing US import tariffs and the economic fallout from the Covid-19 crisis as key factors.

‘One year ago we said it would be a difficult year,’ said César Giron, FEVS chairman. ‘Our expectations were exceeded.’ The group did, however, say that it expected the situation to improve in 2021.

Champagne exports fell by 20.5% in 2020, to just under €2.5bn, with volume down 17%, according to FEVS figures.

Exports of Bordeaux AOC wines fell by 13.9%, to around €1.8bn, although the decline in volume terms was around 3%.

France’s premier fizz wasn’t targeted by tariffs but the regional wine body, Comité Champagne, had already warned last summer of a ‘historic drop’ in shipments – due primarily to the Covid-19 impact.

French still wines have been at the sharp end of a long-running dispute between the EU and US over aerospace industry subsidies.

A 25% import tariff was imposed on still wines at 14% abv or below from France, Spain, Germany, and the UK in October 2019.

Dubbed the ‘Airbus taxes’, FEVS said the move wiped €400m off the value of American imports of French wines in 2020.

Things got worse in January 2021 when US trade officials expanded the tariffs to include French wines above 14%abv, and also grape-based spirits, like Cognac.

French exporters met with French prime minister Jean Castex on Monday to discuss the situation, he added.

‘In this extremely difficult environment, the French wine and spirits exporters found ways to preserve their positions and pave the way to the future and to the economic recovery that we all expect for 2021.’

Source: Decanter.