France wine CRISIS: Spring frost and disease trigger historic low supply chaos

France: Expert details major decline in wine industry

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According to a new estimate from the Ministry of Agriculture, French wine production will see a decrease of 29 percent in 2021. The total comes as a blow for the second top wine producing country in the world, behind Italy.

France, as the top country for wine exports, saw a substantial drop in comparison to 2020 figures, with production set to stand at 33.3 million hectolitres this year, a new “historical low”.

At the beginning of August, the French ministry of agriculture warned wine production was expected to fall by 24-30 percent, but have since confirmed the figure stands at the top end of this bracket.

On September 1, the ministry confirmed that production will be “historically low, lower than that of 1991 and that of 2017”.

The decline comes as wine producing regions in France were severely impacted by frost, and vine disease earlier in the year.

2021 figures are expected to be “25 percent lower than the average harvest of the past five years” due to the factors.

Production was slashed in vine-growing regions from Bordeaux in the southwest to Champagne in the northeast, thanks to periods of severe frost in early April.

At the time, buds on the vine had already started due to the mild winter the region experienced, but they suffered due to the inclement conditions.

Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie referred to the frost attack in France as “probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century”.

Agreste, the statistical service of the ministry, said that losses were accentuated further due to humid summer weather in part of France.

This weather favoured the development of diseases like downy mildew and powdery mildew which had a knock-on effect on crop growth.

Losses in vine-growing regions, such as Burgundy and the Rhone Valley were further affected by this on-set of diseases.

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2021’s yield will be similar to that of 1977, when the wine harvest was reduced due to the effects of destructive frost and summer rainfall.

In addition to the wine sector, other crops across the region were badly affected by the conditions including farmers of other crops such as beet and rapeseed.

Growers of kiwis, apricots, apples and other fruit were also badly hit.

The French wine sector is among those suffering with the consequences Brexit is having on trade.

Asked if Brexit had been a “hard blow” to his business, Jérôme Pont, CEO of Calais Vins, told Public Senat: “This is certain because in fact the British clientele represented around 25 percent of our turnover.”

Winemakers and exports may suffer a further blow as some Brexit supporters are calling for a boycott of EU goods.

A poll of readers found 96 percent planned to boycott EU goods to protest the bloc’s treatment of Britain, with just four percent opposed.

The poll quizzed 11,653 readers from 10am Monday, June 7 to 7am on Tuesday, June 8.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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