Hell, it is the season of Hail! 2013 already unlucky for some.

Merlot grapes took the full brunt
Merlot grapes took the full brunt

Last night’s hail storm (2nd August) has damaged around 4000 hectares of vineyards in Bordeaux first reports announce. The worst area to be hit is Grezillac in the Entre-Deux-Mer (and it is not the first time, already suffering losses on July 26) stripping the leaves off 100s of hectares of vines.

The tougher Cabernet skins coped better
The tougher Cabernet skins coped better

Ping-pong ball sized hail stones fell on Castillon which was badly hit too. There was a 10km wide band that arrived from the South-West causing havoc in its wake. This is family vineyard country, some producers will not be making any wine this year. Very few can afford the insurance to protect themselves but hail is insurable so there will be no help financially normally unless the government stands in.


Map showing the area damaged by hail in the storms of 2nd August. Of the 37,000 ha affected, 7000 ha suffered losses with 80 to 100% loss (red encircled area). Effects 300 producers. The government is looking at ways to help the worst effected financially.

For many it is the last straw as hail is a regular catastrophe in this corridor particularly around Grézillac in the Entre Deux Mers. With the Financial crisis and Evin’s law that restricts publicity of wine, it is becoming too difficult for the small independent Producer.

Unfortunately most producers had just finished ‘rognage’ (cutting the tops of the vines) and ‘effeuillage’ (plucking leaves from around the grapes) before the Holiday season starts foilage which would have served the grapes well as extra protection. This weekend the roads of France are packed with holidaymakers and 250km of traffic jams have been recorded in the region.

Producers are already facing a difficult harvest with reduced yields due to coulure and millerandage particularly in the Merlot with quality issues too as the small aborted green berries will be difficult to be sorted unless you can afford a 300,000€ tri-optic sorting machine that works with infra-red light.

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