Violent hailstorms have damaged thousands of hectares of vines in France's Languedoc-Roussillon, only weeks after winemakers in Burgundy and Bordeaux suffered similar deluges.
A map showing where hail struck in Aude. Worst affected areas in darker shading. Image: Aude Chamber of Agriculture
Up to 15,000ha of vines in the western Languedoc-Roussillon area of Aude are estimated to have been damaged in the downpours on Sunday night, said the local chamber of agriculture.
A picture posted on its website showed a producer holding a hail stone as big as their hand.
Officials have spent the past two days touring the region to get a better idea of the storms’ impact, but vineyard damage is believed to range from 20% to 100% in the worst hit areas, they said.
Most of the hail fell in north of Corbieres and over the border into Minervois, over an area stretching from Castelnau-d’Aude in the west to Saint-Nazaire in the east and Pepieux in the north.
The storms in Languedoc came just over a week after hail decimated around 3,000ha of vines in Burgundy, leading producers there to call for government aid.
In mid-June, hailstorms also damaged several hundred hectares of vines in Bordeaux‘s northern Medoc region.
Following the latest storm in Languedoc, French national farmers’ federation FNSEA has said it is concerned about the potential low level of stocks in France’s wine cellars, should the country see another small harvest in 2014.
Written by Chris Mercer