France is known for many beautiful things, from romance to the arts and history, but to have one of its most important attractions in jeopardy – its wine — is to bring an uncommon amount of worry.
Elite winemaking depends a great deal on weather, and when weather doesn’t cooperate, the effects can be staggering.
The past spring did not cooperate, and France now is facing a summer of difficulty in the wine export business.
An unusually severe frost caused widespread damage to vineyards across the country – and that was on top of the effects due to the pandemic.
The situation was made worse because the frost arrived just after unusually warm temperatures. The vines, therefore, had grown more quickly and were more easily damaged by the cold.
“France encountered near record warmth from late March to early April,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said, adding a “brutal Arctic outbreak” in Europe followed almost immediately.
More than 80 percent of France’s vineyards suffered weather-related troubles, according to the European Committee of Wine Companies.
“This is expected to cause a yield loss ranging from 25% to up to 50% in some regions,” the trade body told CNN Business following the cold snap in April.
The destruction spread across the Rhone Valley, which includes the Cornas area.
“In some regions there will be very, very few grapes,” said Anne Colombo, president of the Cornas appellation, adding that the frost was the worst in more than 50 years.
The famed wine regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Provence and the Loire Valley also suffered from the frost.
The Federation of Wine and Spirits Exporters of France reported exports of French wine and spirits were off more than 13 percent, with figures even worse (18 percent down) in U.S. sales.