East Coast Wine Trail

East Coast Wine Trail
East Coast Wine Trail

Friday, 23 April 2021

Frost catastrophe for wine growers in France and Italy

Imports from the 2021 wine vintage in France and Italy could be in short supply after both countries were hit by waves of spring frosts. 
At least a third of French wine production worth almost €2 billion in sales will be lost after rare freezing temperatures devastated many vines and fruit crops across the country. 

“This is probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century,” French agriculture minister Julien Denormandie said as the Government declared an “agricultural disaster” and began preparing emergency financial measures.

The unseasonal wave of bitter frost and ice hit suddenly after a bout of warm weather, which worsened the damage. The warmth had encouraged vines and fruit trees to develop earlier than usual. 

The destruction hit regions including Bordeaux, Burgundy (above), the Rhône Valley and Provence. 

In the Côte-Rôtie the region was heading for its smallest harvest in 40 years, with some estates losing their entire crop. Local media reported around 50% of the 2021 harvest in Burgundy has been lost.

Winemakers battled over several nights to try to save French vineyards and soon after vines in Piedmont and Tuscany were impacted by the same cold snap. 

Antinori CEO Renzo Cotarella said: "It was quite severe in Montepulciano, in the lower areas of Montalcino and also in Maremma. 

"We were also affected at Castello della Sala [in Umbria] with chardonnay. Much better in Bolgheri, where the damage was very little - 5% - and in Chianti Classico, thanks to the altitude."

In Piedmont, the cold weather also brought growth in the vineyards to a halt for several days. It will likely be another week or two before the exact impact on the overall production for 2021 can be evaluated.

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