French wine production is expected to fall by nearly a third this year due to a devastating period of frost in early spring.
The statistical agency of the Ministry of Agriculture, Agreste, estimates that wine production should fall 29% year on year to around 33 million hectoliters. That’s about a quarter below the average for the past five years. One hectolitre = 100 liters.
“The spring frost has reduced much of the production, which will be historically low,” Agreste said in a statement Tuesday.
Desperate winemakers tried to ward off the late frost by lighting candles and fires in their vines at night and spraying water to create an ice shell around the buds.
However, none of the wine-growing regions was spared by the frost, but it was the early grape harvests that were the most affected, Burgundy, the Rhone Valley and the Jura particularly affected.
The losses were then accentuated by the wet summer which favored the emergence of diseases, Agreste said, including powdery mildew and black rot. The necrotrophic fungus botrytis now also threatens the harvest, especially in Alsace.
The 2021 yield should be close to that of 1977 when the harvest was also greatly reduced by destructive frost and summer rains.
The Eastern Jura region is expected to see its wine production drop 82% year-on-year to just 17,000 hectoliters. Beaujolais comes next with an expected production 47% lower than in 2020, while the quantity of wine produced in the southwest – outside the Bordeaux region – is expected to decline by 44%.
Champagne production is expected to decline by 36%. Agreste declared that “agronomic production (in Champagne) should be at its lowest for 40 years, which should lead to the use of wine reserves from previous years”.
France is the second largest producer of wine in the world after Italy and the leading exporter.