Posted: Aug 29, 2017
Cost of wine set to rise because extreme weather has decimated grape harvest
Experts in France warn that it could be the smallest harvest since end of WW2
Equally gloomy picture in Italy, as well as Switzerland, Austria and Germany
The cost of wine is set to increase because extreme weather has decimated the grape harvest.
Experts in France have warned in could be the smallest harvest since the end of the Second World War.
Hail and frost ravaged vines in the spring and this was followed by a drought in the summer.
There was an equally gloomy picture in Italy, as well as Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Hungary.
In addition to this the pound's fall against the euro, following last year's Brexit result, has already made European wines costlier in the UK.
The cold wrought havoc notably in south-west France, with Bordeaux suffering along with neighbouring Charente.
Vineyards in north-eastern Alsace, which produces mainly white wines, were also hit hard.
Jérôme Despey said: 'It will be the smallest harvest since 1945.'
Vineyards in the south, Beaujolais and the Rhône valley suffered during an exceptionally dry summer that will further depress yields, the agriculture ministry said.
However one advantage of drought is that it reduces the impact of diseases on the vines.
The maturity and good health of the grapes pointed to a year that 'will stand out for quality, happily', Mr Despey said.
He also pointed out last year's harvest had an equally bleak picture but those fears were unfounded.
The traditional August to October harvest of the world's second largest wine producer 'could be historically low and inferior to that of 1991, which was also hit by severe frost' +2
Philippe de Cantenac, a specialist writer for La Revue du Vin de France said many vineyard owners were short of money after successive small harvests.
He said: 'They will have to put up their prices...but not cut themselves off from their markets.'
In Italy grape picking is starting up to ten days early and wine production is set to drop by 13 million hectrolitres from the 52 million produced last year, according to Riccardo Cotarella, the head of the Italian Association of Enologists.
Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Hungary also experienced frost this year that could diminish harvests by 30 per cent and even up to 60 per cent in some areas.
The average 75cl bottle topped £5.50 for the first time towards the end of last year, and hit £5.56 in the first quarter of 2017, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).
Experts are predicting a 40 per cent drop in output in the prime wine-growing region of Bordeaux, the country’s largest +2
France's agricultural ministry said it anticipated the country's vineyards to produce 37.6 million hectolitres of wine - 17 per cent below last year and 16 per cent below the average of the past five years.
The traditional August to October harvest of the world's second largest wine producer 'could be historically low and inferior to that of 1991, which was also hit by severe frost'
By Thomas Burrows
August 28, 2017
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