Cote de Beaune vineyards hit hard by violent storms

  • Wednesday 24 July 2013

Two violent storms collided late Tuesday in Burgundy resulting in massive damage to vineyards in the Cote de Beaune, according to the Burgundy Wine Board (BIVB).

Burgundy floods July 2013

Vines under water, credit: Caroline Parent-gros

Hail broke open grapes leaving pips lying on vineyards, strong winds tore off leaves while the heavy rains and severe flooding risk midew and oidium, said Thiébault Huber of Domaine Huber Verdereau in Volnay.

Damage spread from the Corton hill to Meursault, said BIVB spokeswoman Cécile Mathiaud, who told decanter.com she was startled by the amount of ‘mud and water along the 20-kilometre Cote de Beaune bike route'.

The storms damaged between 50 to 90 per cent of vines in Beaune, Volnay and Pommard, including premier cru vineyards like Epenots and Clos des Mouches, according to the BIVB.

Outer points of the Cote were less affected, but 50% of Aloxe vineyards and 40% of Meursault vineyards suffered damage.

Huber said 58mm of rain fell in one hour in Volnay. ‘Vines will now use energy to heal wounds rather than develop grapes.’ He explained that the heavy rains combined with heat run the risk of rot and disease.  

‘For three weeks after a cold spring, we were rather happy with the weather, but this is catastrophic.’

Speaking to Decanter.com, Caroline Parent-gros, a winemaker in the Cote de Beaune said; ‘It’s a really hard blow for the winemakers, especially after 2012, which was already half the usual harvest due to hail.

'We had 17 minutes of hail, which is really rare in the history of agricultural disasters. In Pommard, Volnay, Beaune and Savigny les Beaune, 60 to 100% of the harvest is lost.'

'The flooding in the vineyards won’t have serious consequences for the future as it is just soil erosion. Equally the wood of the plants were not damaged as the wind was not too strong, so there shouldn’t be any consequences for next year’s harvest.

'However the wines from the appellations touched by the hail will be extremely rare. There will defintiely be economic consequences for the domains in Pommard and Volnay, with certainly an increase in the prices of wines from 2013. Moreover, such a shortage will be a serious problem to supply our existing markets. 

'There is between 20% and 40% of the harvest left in certain parcels, for which the quality will be very good if the weather is better from now on. The berries are not too tight, with good ventilation. We were still at the closing of the cluster, so there's no consequences in terms of 'taste of hail' for the future.'

The recent storms have compounded fears in the region of a troublesome 2013 vintage due to heavy rainfaill earlier in the year jeopardising vine growth and flowering and pushing back harvest dates up to four weeks late.

Huber, president of the Volnay Vintners Association, added that the storms are likely to mean very low production in 2013. ‘For the second year in a row,’ he stressed. ‘I am not sure that some properties will survive this', he said.

Vintners in the Cote de Nuit reported no such damage.

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