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Hailstorms decimate Loire vines

A hail storm at in the early hours of Monday morning has caused widespread damage across much of the Loire communes Vouvray and Reugny.

The aftermath of the storm

The damage has been severe in some areas, particularly around the town of Tours, with 30% to 100% of crops reported destroyed.

Up to 1000ha across Vouvray have been affected – somewhat under half the 2,300ha appellation.

Hail stones ‘as big as eggs’ were reported by numerous French weather stations.

Local fire stations were reporting up to 260 call-outs across 40 communes in the region, to deal with issues ranging from fallen trees to broken roofs and flooded cellars. 13,500 households were without electricity this morning.

‘It’s a scene of desolation. There is practically no vegetation left on the vines’, said Philippe Thierry, director of Alliance Loire in Vouvray, a cooperative with 35 producers. Half of Alliance’s members have been affected.

Thierry said that although it is a late-flowering season, the damage is not just to leaves and flowers but the vines themselves.

While some producers keep stocks from previous years and others have insurance, buy by no means all are proteced. ‘For those that aren’t, this will be very very tough,’ Thierry said.

Christian Feray, winemaker at Chateau de Montcontour, the largest winemaker in the appellation, said his crop had been entirely destroyed by the storm.

‘And even next year’s harvest will be compromised, as the vines will not be able to recover in time. The storm lasted just 10 minutes but destroyed everything,’ Feray told local reporters.

Francois Pinon of Domaine Francois Pinon has also reported all his vineyards have been hit, with near total loss.

Hail warnings remain in place for much of northern France.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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