REVISION: Burgundy producers request aid as over 3,000 hectares damaged, worth estimated 75m euros in lost revenues

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles / 2 July 2014

REVISION: “damaged” not “destroyed” – plus details on over 2,000 hectares struck in the Nord Mâconnais and the Côte Chalonnaise. 

An earlier version of this posting used the word “destroyed” for some 3,000 hectares mainly in the Cote de Beaune but some also in the Cote de Nuits. After talking with a representative of the Burgundy Wine Council, a more accurate word is “damaged” – it is at this early stage still difficult to ascertain to what extent vines that were hit were damaged: completely destroyed or just partially.

In any case, the smaller sized hail – about the size of a euro coin – proved more deadly than the bigger stones as the smaller stones swept in like machine gun fire and severely damaged leaves, grapes and vines according to various French news reports.

In addition, some 2,000 more hectares were damaged in the Saône-et-Loire (the Nord Mâconnais and the la Côte Chalonnaise): On average : 200 hectares suffered over 50% of grapes hit in the sectors of the Vallée de la Grosne, le Sud de la Côte Chalonnaise and the Nord Mâconnais ; 1,000 were hit by hail with 10 to 30% damage in Lugny and Mancey ; 1,000 hectares  hit as well but with less damages – less than 10% – in the northern part of the Côte Chalonnaise.

As more French media reports are published – and as I have been reporting in – producers across Burgundy are asking government officials for help in the form of tax relief, subsidies and funding to increase anti-hail measures, following the devastating hailstorm on Saturday June 28.

Some 100 vintners met with Beaune sub-prefect Anne Frackowiak-Jacobs on Monday evening to assess damages. On Tuesday evening, newly elected Beaune prefect Eric Delzant toured some of the damaged vineyards.

According to the Confédération des Appellations et des Vignerons de Bourgogne, the Saturday storms resulted in an estimated 75m euros in lost revenue on wine sales, not including losses for activities related to wine such as transport, storage and other work tied to wine sales.

Over 3,000 hectares of vines have been damaged in the Cote d’Or, from the most basic AOC Bourgogne to prestigious grand cru appellations, according to Thiébault Hubert, president of the Volnay Vintners Association.

And to reports like this one (en français).

The figure of over 3,000 hectares is the sum of percentages of vineyards damaged per appellation – see below. More specific information on specific hectares damaged will be forthcoming.

Hubert remarked that alongside tax relief and subsidies, the producers would be requesting assistance in the form of funding for anti-hail generators and the potential introduction of anti-hail nets.

“I hope that we get some commitment for aid because last year there was a lot of nice talk, but not much happened,” he added.

Meantime French media also reported that Frackowiak-Jacobs rejected a proposal from growers to categorize damage from the storm a natural disaster. “That is unlikely because it does not meet the specific characteristics of this type of event,”  Frackowiak-Jacobs told Saone et Loire. “This is too limited, it affects only a single industry;  for example, there was no damage to nearby homes.”

“Pommard really got whacked,” said Beaune-based vintner Alex Gambal. ‘It’s very disheartening, as we had a spectacular start with vines in beautiful condition and perfect weather since March 1.’

More meetings are scheduled within the next week to examine possible solutions and relief for the damages sustained, Hubert said.

Reported vineyard damage by appellation not including Burgundy and Haut Cotes de Beaune AOC:

Pommard: 70-90% damage
Volnay: 60-80% damage
Meursault: 10 to 20% damage, but up to 80% for some premiers crus
Beaune: 15-100% damage
Monthelie: between 30-70% damaged
Corton (grand cru): 30-50% damaged
Puligny: 1er Crus damaged between 30-40%, grands crus suffered up to 20% damage
Aloxe-Corton: 10-40% damaged
Chassagne including grands crus: 5-10% damaged
Saint Aubin: About 20% damaged, especially premiers crus
Auxey: 10-60% damaged
Ladoix: up to 40% damaged, especially higher elevation climates
Savigny: 5 to 30% damaged
Pernand: 10-25% damaged, especially the premiers crus
Vosne/Flagey: Between 5 and 20%
Chambolle: Between 5 and 20%
Clos de Vougeot: About 20%

Stay tuned for more updates.



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