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Frosty reception - Adverse weather in some vineyards (April 2021)

Take your point, wicked damage as per photo, it’s just that my go to in times of frost, in our northern latitude and east coast position, is late afternoon water mist spray, And watering to ground area of rose beds and rose terrace, Not perfect but pretty good overall.

Apparently some have under-soil electric heating.
Polythene/tarpaulins aren’t generally allowed (although I hear that they are in Champagne)

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Frost of the century? The situation is dire across France.


Hard to give that article a ‘like’ but thanks for sharing. What an awful situation.

Not so bad if you can enlist a helicopter.

Curious to know what he means by better value, because I can’t imagine it’s cheap. Do you think it’s reference to the ineffectiveness of smudge pots?

smudge pots cost + manpower cost required to cover large swaths of vineyard maybe…?

apparently, the smoke produced by these pots is also locally irking residents…

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I did read one French wine grower say that with COVID restaurant closures and Trump import tariffs they had plenty of wine left in the cellars from previous years. Black humour alive and well in France.

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I thought I would share this as it was sent to me from a young winemaker I know in the Montagne de Reims in Champagne. This was snow this week.
He says they have damage to their Chardonnay but the damage hasn’t been too bad as most vines on their sites don’t budburst until May. Their Pinot Noir seems to be ok but they have been out with smudge pots the past week.


Is it possible that 2021 could still be a decent vintage, just at much reduced volumes or, given the damage to the first buds, will it now have been compromised?

It massively depends on the region.
If vineyards have already gone through bud burst then been frozen, you can confidently say goodbye to those vines. If it’s only a few rows then not too bad but if it’s your whole vineyard across numerous sites, that’s it, no vintage.
The whole of the Rhone valley is looking pretty disastrous right now with calls to the French government for aid for winemakers.
This on top of drastically reduced visitors is not good news especially in France.

Tweet from Matt Walls
(1) Matt Walls on Twitter: “The majority of the 2021 harvest has been lost to frost in the Rhône Valley. A catastrophe of historic proportions. My thoughts are with the vignerons :disappointed_relieved:” / Twitter


I’ve heard quotes of call out costs of around 1.5-2.5k per hour for a helicopter, but that’s for an expensive one with three highly skilled crew and lots of tech. If you change that to a less expensive helicopter at a lower speed (with likely lower fuel costs) without very expensive cameras on it and with one pilot… I imagine it comes down a bit. Which might make it competitive if it’s effective.


Members, would do well to remember this article when the plaudits for the 2021 vintage gets lauded on its EP launch.


Spring Frost does not necessarily mean lower quality. If the summer is fine and harvest time warm and dry then the issue with the en primeur campaign will be which merchant gets the one mixed case of chablis, the six pack of cote de nuits and the magnum of medoc.


prices for the 2020 EP on the other hand…


Indeed. Though the narrative I heard was more a question of “total wipeout” in certain areas, so presumably the 70% reduction guess takes that into account.

This is terribly sad for the poor folks that devote their lives and put such hard work into their vinyards.
It makes me think of the time when as a young un, living in South Africa, driving past decimated crops of corn felled to the ground by drought and heat of the African sun, how difficult and heart breaking the life of a farmer could be. All that hope and hard work destroyed by the whims of weather.
I just hope the past run of good vintages will stand these folks in good stead to be able to ride this through. And that some still do have stocks in their cellars of unsold bottles due to covid and US taffirs to fall back on.
The best of luck to all effected.


Spoke to a number of friends and winemakers living in the Nantes area. The losses are ranging from 30% to 100% depending on the aspect of the vineyards, with a couple of nights of frost left to go… Given that you are close to the ocean, I cannot imagine the impact this has had further inland.

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Whilst many, this EP season have remarked on the damage done to our wallets, in the first quarter of 2021 - we can only speculate how small the crops may be for Burgundy / Bordeaux / Rhone / etc. for 2021.

I do hope that the Society can help out winemakers that we have good associations with. :dragon:


I don’t quite follow the meaning of your post?

It’s his normal cynical view :rofl: that even if it’s a terrible vintage it will be lauded as a great one when the EP campaign kicks off. It’s quite possible he’s right, of course! :wink: