French vineyards ‘burned’ in intense heatwave damage
Vineyards in the south of France have been damaged in the scorching heatwave this week, with local winemakers saying they have not seen such burns in “over 30 years”.
The departments of the Gard and the Hérault have been particularly affected, with locals saying the grapes appear to have been “burned with a blowtorch”. The area was placed on Météo France red alert for the heatwave (canicule) this week. Temperatures reached over 45°C in some places.
Winemaker and president of the Hérault chamber of commerce, Jérôme Despey, said: “Temperatures reached such levels that some vines appear to have been blowtorched; literally grilled...grapes were burned, and the leaves dried out.”
La canicule frappe aussi le vignoble Heraultais de nombreux dégâts sont constatés je voudrais apporter mon total soutien aux viticulteurs. Je vais activer la cellule d urgence de @chambagri34 pour recenser les dégâts dans les plus brefs délais. @Midilibre @Prefet34 @dguillaume26 pic.twitter.com/1ZhJCviVYR— Jérôme Despey (@JeromeDespey) June 28, 2019
In a tweet, Mr Despey added that he intended to “activate the emergency unit” at the departmental chamber of agriculture, to get a clearer picture of the damage as soon as possible.
He added: “Vines usually resist heat, but with the levels reached on Friday, winemaking is paying a large price. This is something that I have never lived through. I have been a winemaker for 30 years. I have never seen a vine burned by a heatwave like this; it’s impressive.”
Winemakers in Villeveyrac, Fabrègues and the Pic Saint-Loup area were most affected, he said, including very old “ancestral” vines, such as the Carignan.
Mr Despey also acknowledged that small wildfires across the Gard had also wreaked havoc for several farmers and winemakers in the past few days.
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France