CHALLENGING TIMES for France’s wine industry these days as production may fall 17 percent this year to a record low after spring frosts damaged vineyards, notably in the Bordeaux region, which might lose half its output, the farm ministry has stated. In its first estimates of this year’s output, the ministry estimated this year’s wine production in France, the world’s second-largest producer, at 37 million to 38.2 million hectolitres, down from 45.5 million in 2O16. The median value, at 37.6 million hectolitres, would be 17 percent less than last year’s output and 16 percent below average. That would be “historically low” and less than the output in 1991, when vines were also badly hit by frosts. Wine growers used candles, heaters and even the down-draught from helicopters during the cold snap in April to try to save crops.
The country’s wine output had already fallen in 2O16 because of bad weather. Champagne was among the worst hit, with the harvest down more than 2O percent from the previous year as spring frosts were followed by other problems, such as mildew. This year’s production in Champagne was expected to recover slightly, up 8 percent, but still 9 percent below the 2O12-2O16 average. Late April, frosts severely damaged the Bordeaux vineyard, which could lose half its output from the large volume produced in 2O16 and fall 4O percent below the five-year average, the ministry said. The Bourgogne and Beaujolais region, which suffered major damage in 2O16, were better off this year, with output expected to rise 14 percent. The estimates were provisional and did not take into account the weather until harvest, which usually takes place from August to October in France.