Frost hits French vineyards: Bourgogne, Champagne, Alsace, Bordeaux…

Frost hits French vineyards: Bourgogne, Champagne, Alsace, Bordeaux, Jura


Since a few days, a cold snap threatens French vines


Two nights around -5° in the Champagne vineyard have resulted in the loss of 85% of buds. On April 20, temperatures have reached -9° in some areas, and other frosty nights are planned for the next week. With an unsually hot spring, vegetation matured 2/3 weeks earlier, so it’s in the middle of the bud swelling period that winemakers have to deal with this severe cold/frost snap.

In some regions, there is concern that we could relive the terrible frosty period of the 1991’ “black frost”, although this one had not yet reached the same gravity. In AlsaceLoire and in Languedoc, winemakers can already take stock of the destruction that has taken place, but it’s too soon to estimate losses in Champagne or in Burgundy.

In Jura, 45% on the vineyard have been already reached, with parcels affected unequally, from 0 to 100%. Unfortunately, as Jean-Charles Tissot (CIVJ’ President) say “firsts frosty buds are fruit-bearing (…), the seconds will make wood, but no fruits.” It’s a real blow for the appellation which, after similar frosty periods previous years, suffers from a lack of stocks.

Winemakers concerned stake everything on the secondary buds to avoid the worst. Some of them set up techniques to warm the temperature, notably for “risk” parcels, with spray water system, “chaufferette” (candles) which stays very expensive and rare.

In Bordeaux, compared to other regions, the vineyard was less and unevenly affected. “Will there be a new fruit-bud growth? (…) we try to persuade ourselves that we will still pick some grapes on these vines but we understand the difficulty of sorting after harvets and defining the perfect stages of maturity … “(Nicolas Lesaint, technical director of the Château de Reignac)

Even though this week-end temperatures are rising again, the weather forecast for the next week is worrying.