French wine producers in most regions hit by poor 2016 vintage

French wine producers in most regions hit by poor 2016 vintage

French wine producers are reeling from the full impact of what has been a devastating 2016 vintage in many parts of the country with some having no grapes to sell or facing losses that fear could bankrupt them.

Whilst the overall picture, according to the OIV, will see the total French wine harvest down by 12%, it is far worse than that in key areas of Burgundy, Chablis, Chiroubles, the Loire, Beaujolais and even in parts of Champagne.

“This isn’t so much a harvest, as a hunt for grapes,” said French winemaker Jean-Jacques Robert, of Domaine Robert-Denogent near Fuisse in Burgundy. ”It’s a catastrophe, the worst harvest for 30 or 40 years.”

The organic winemaker lost between two-thirds and three-quarters of his harvest in one hailstorm in April.

“All that was missing was a plague of frogs,” said Robert’s son Antoine.

It has raised further calls for the government to step in and take action to help some winemakers, reports VINEX.

Some areas are taking matters in to their own hands. With restaurants and wine shops starting campaigns and fund raising efforts to help winemakers that have been hit with total or near total losses of grapes.

Particularly badly affected have been the large proportion of organic winemakers in France and natural producers, who were unable to use any sprays or preventative measures to protect themselves from the weather.

Unable to spray damaged crops, they had to watch as mildew attacked their vines.  Many refused to go “against our principles” and using chemicals.

But some did. “It’s the most difficult decision I have ever taken,” said Vincent Dureuil-Janthial from Rully in Burgundy, who told AFP that he had lost the organic certification he had held for a decade as he had to use sprays. “It felt like a personal failure.” But he said he was forced to act so that he could pay his six members of staff. “I had to take a decision as a business owner to save what little of the crop was left to save.”

Laurie Lacroix, of Vendanges Solidaires Group told AFP: “Many winemakers are really in a very bad situation. Many cannot afford insurance, and particularly for those who are starting out it has been disastrous. There is no state support or compensation. It is a real high-wire act.”

Jean-Jacques Robert added: “We lost €300,000 eurosin one shower, which is huge. Our insurance will hopefully cover €100,000 euros of that but the rest you have to absorb.”


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