More than 400ha of vines in Bergerac were destroyed by a violent hailstorm on Friday afternoon.

Witnesses said the storm came without warning, peppering the vineyards with hailstones the size of cherries.

Within 20 minutes the vines were stripped of their leaves, shoots and berries, leaving them bare and destroying any chance of a harvest this year.

As many as 100 producers in the southern communes of the Bergerac appellation, such as Eymet, Sadillac, Sinleyrac and Ribagnac, are thought to have been badly affected by the storm.

The Bergerac AOC, situated to the east of Bordeaux in the Dordogne region, produces red and white wine.

Written by Rupert Joy