An early frost has devastated French vineyards, to the point where 25% to 50% of the wine grape crop in some regions is expected to be lost.
The frost affected 80% of grapevines in regions including the Rhone Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and Provence, according to CNN. One French official called it the worst agricultural climate event in twenty years.
The cold was especially problematic because it followed a period of unseasonable warmth. In Champagne, temperatures went from almost 80°F to 22°F in less than a week. The warmth prompted vines to start growing, which left them especially vulnerable to the cold spell.
The weather situation is the latest pressure on French winemakers. The pandemic suppressed fine dining and tourism, cutting consumption of high-end wine, and a tariff imposed by the U.S. restricted exports. French alcohol exports dropped by almost 14% globally in 2020, and to the U.S., by 18%.
France’s National Federation of Farmers’ Unions blamed the situation on man-made climate change.