German frosts 'worst for 30 years'

  • Monday 9 May 2011

German vineyards have been devastated by some of the worst frosts the country has seen for 30 years.

Frost damage on Pinot Noir vine

Frost damage on Pinot Noir (pic courtesy of winemakermag.com)

Temperatures dipped as low as -5C on the night of 3-4 May in areas including the Pfalz, Rheinhessen, Franken and Württemberg.

The German Wine Institute (DWI) said it was too soon to assess the impact on the 2011 vintage, but local reports in Franken suggested up to half the crop could be lost in some areas, and in a few cases losses might be as high as 90% – with some comparing the situation to the 1981 vintage.

Early varieties such as Dornfelder have been particularly badly affected, with Pinot Noir (locally known as Spätburgunder) also suffering damage to the vine’s tender young shoots.

‘It is predominantly vineyards located in low-lying areas that have been affected by these frosts, due to the cool air accumulating in the valleys,’ said Ernst Büscher of the DWI’s communications department.

‘Frosty nights in May are not unusual in Germany, but they have not been as strong as this for several years.’

Producers had been hoping for a bumper crop this year, following 2010’s smallest harvest for 25 years, restricting supply and driving prices up.

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