Spectacular scene in Chablis vineyards as winemakers battle frost

The cold snap that hit France this week caused Burgundy winegrowers to fear the worst, given the devastating effect of frost on their vines.

20 April 2017
Oil heaters protect the vines from frost at the Blanchot vineyard, Chablis, Burgundy.
By Mark Hayes

Under threat was the famous Chablis vineyards, where last year the crop was devastated by unseasonal rain and frost in April, followed by hail in June.

After facing a first wave of frost on Tuesday night, last night the winegrowers used several protection systems to protect the vines from the severe cold.

Local media reported that some sprinkling devices were activated from 11pm. But more spectacular by far was the lighting of hundreds of small, oil-burning heaters across hectares of vines to limit the effects of the frost.

The beautiful scene was captured by local photographer Titouan Rimbault, who took this image at the Blanchot vineyard. You can see more of his photos from Blanchot here.

However, significant damage was reported this morning, especially in nearby Maligny.

“It’s very varied from one plot to another, but it was really very cold last night, a very dry cold because the wind has fallen,” Frédéric Gueguen, president of the Federation of the Chablis Appellation, told l'Yonne Républicaine newspaper.

One winemaker in Maligny said: “I think that we are close to 50% losses on the farm, and after the year 2016 that we lived through, it is a bit desperate. We set up heaters on some of our plots, but when we go below -5 ° C, they are ineffective.”

The cold spell is expected to continue until tomorrow, before temperatures start to climb over the weekend as sunnier spells return.

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