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A very bad year: extreme weather cuts France’s 2021 wine harvest by a third

A confluence of weather woes is hurting France’s wine harvest.

First, there was severe frost in the spring, which laid the foundation for disaster by damaging 30 per cent of the production. Then, torrential summer rains hit western Europe in July, leaving parts of Germany and Belgium ravaged by floods, and leading to fungal attacks on grapes and their leaves in France.

All of this has set France up for a wine supply drop of 24 to 30 per cent this year – the lowest output since 1970, France’s farm ministry said Friday, as reported by Reuters.

Emilie Faucheron and her husband stand in their vineyard in Montady, France. More than 80 per cent of their crops were destroyed in the April cold snap.

Emilie Faucheron and her husband stand in their vineyard in Montady, France. More than 80 per cent of their crops were destroyed in the April cold snap.Credit:Sandra Mehl/The Washington Post

For champagne, harvest potential has been slashed in half, some producers warned.

In Italy, high temperatures in the south caused an early harvest, while heavy rains in the north caused a late harvest, according to farmers association Coldiretti, the world’s largest wine producer. Output is estimated to fall by 5 to 10 per cent.

Pointing to rising Italian sea levels, salt water infiltrating inland, burning crops in the fields, and devastating droughts, Coldiretti in a Monday statement said it is raising an “occasion of alarm” based on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s landmark report, which was released on Monday. It stated that there is no remaining scientific doubt that humans are fuelling climate change.

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Agriculture, the Coldiretti statement read, is the economic activity that most directly faces the consequences of climate change on a daily basis, but also is the sector most committed to combating them.

Wine producers had forewarned of this plummeting. Winemakers earlier in the year had taken drastic measures to protect their vines: renting helicopters to push warm air toward the ground or lighting candles around vineyards.

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