A confluence of weather woes is hurting France’s wine harvest. First, there was severe frost in the spring, which laid the foundation for disaster by damaging 30 percent of the production. Then, torrential summer rains hit western Europe in July, leaving parts of Germany and Belgium ravaged by floods, and leading to fungal attacks on grapes and their leaves in France.

All of this has set France up for a wine supply drop of 24 to 30 percent this year – the lowest output since 1970, France’s farm ministry said Friday, as reported by Reuters.

For champagne, harvest potential has been slashed in half, some producers warned.

In Italy, high temperatures in the south caused an early harvest, while heavy rains in the north caused a late harvest, according to farmers association Coldiretti, the world’s largest wine producer. Output is estimated to fall by 5 to 10 percent.

Pointing to rising Italian sea levels, salt water infiltrating inland, burning crops in the fields, and devastating droughts, Coldiretti in a Monday statement said it is raising an “occasion of alarm” based on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s landmark report released Monday. It stated that there is no remaining scientific doubt that humans are fueling climate change.

Agriculture, the Coldiretti statement read, is the economic activity that most strongly experiences the consequences of climate change on a daily basis, but also is the sector most committed to combating them.

Wine producers had forewarned of this plummeting. Winemakers earlier in the year had taken drastic measures to protect their vines: renting helicopters to push warm air toward the ground or lighting candles around vineyards.

But the efforts couldn’t stave off the effects of extreme weather patterns, worsening as climate change progresses.

These weather-induced production headaches further batter an industry already wrestling against the negative effects of the pandemic and U.S. tariffs.

Released Friday, the first national outlook on wine output in France projected that 2021 production would sit between 32.6 and 35.6 million hectoliters. That’s 24 to 30 percent less than last year – with one hectoliter equivalent to around 133 standard wine bottles.

“Wine production in 2021 is forecast to be historically weak, below levels in 1991 and 2017 that were also affected by severe frost in spring,” France’s farm ministry stated in the report quoted by Reuters.

Jerome Despey, a producer and wine committee head at farming agency FranceAgriMer, told Reuters that there was time for a slight recovery, as grapes were at least 10 days to two weeks behind last year’s growth pace.

As for prices, champagne producers say that adjusting supply with stock from previous seasons will prevent a spike, Reuters reported. Usually, champagne companies keep a reserve of past years’ output to use in case of a supply drop or demand surge.

“Wine producers are facing major difficulties this year,” Despey said. “The lost production will never be made up for by market prices.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.