Local officials have called for parts of Beaujolais to be declared a disaster zone after fierce hail storms severely damaged several vineards in the area.
Only one month after a first episode of hail, northern Beaujolais was hit by another violent hail storm and lot of rain on the evening of Friday 24 June.
Mélina Condy, from regional wine body Inter-Beaujolais, said ‘3,000 hectares or 20% of the vineyard’ was at least partially damaged.
Effects are feared worse than last month’s storm, because of violent winds and 80mm of rain accompanying the hail.
The crus of Beaujolais, the best part of Beaujolais, are situated in the north.
Fleurie, one of them, is believed to have suffered most. ‘70% to 80% of the vineyards are totally destroyed by the hail,’ said Frédéric Miguet, mayor of Fleurie.
There was also a landslide that has spread soil on the roads and potentially disrupted vineyard terroirs.
Moulin-à-Vent was hit hard, too.
Thibault Liger-Belair, the biodynamic winemaker, estimated that he lost 75% of his 2016 harvest.
He sprayed valerian and arnica just after the hail and said that he hoped the pruning system used in Beaujolais (a short pruning) to lessen the impact on 2017.
Others crus hit by this violent hailstorm included Morgon, although the Côte de Py was only moderately affected overall. All vineyards in Chiroubles have now been damaged by hail in the past month, at least to some extent.
Local officials will spend the next few days assessing the damage properly. There have already been calls for the French government to declare northern Beaujolais a disaster zone, which would open up state aid to affect growers.
This new disaster may further weaken a significant number of Beaujolais properties that are not believed to be in very good financial health.
Editing by Chris Mercer