Bats Are The New Saviour Of French Wine

Posted: Oct 08, 2020

It's been a disastrous period for wine and champagne producers across France. Last October, the U.S. put a 25% tariff on French imports, in a quid pro quo involving the airline industry, raising the price of French wine for American consumers.

As a result, Bordeaux's wine value fell by 46% in November 2019, compared to 2018, as reported by Bloomberg.

But Covid-19 has made things worse—by July 2020, for the 12-month period prior, Bordeaux was down 18%, according to the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (CIVB).

Usually, high-end bottles drive sales for lower-end bottles but no one has been buying high-end bottles in a pandemic; it's been the inverse, with consumers switching down to lower-end bottles and wine boxes. Bloomberg stated that “a 1999 Château Mouton Rothschild is now priced at around $330; it would ordinarily command almost $500”.

One of the biggest problems each harvest is the pests, which eat away and destroy the vines—in this case, the European grapevine moth and grape berry moth; both of these can end in botrytis, a gray rot. The situation is getting worse and the issue is being exacerbated further by the ravages of climate change.

Now some Bordeaux wine producers are making bat-friendly habitats, creating strips of grass between the rows of vines and installing bat boxes for them to nest. Due to the fact they eat insects, are nocturnal and have an apparently insatiable appetite, it is hoped—but not yet proved—that these winged mammals might just help to eradicate these pests.

By Alex Ledsom
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