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Hail hits Douro

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Douro was hit by a heavy hailstorm on the night of 14 June, with some vineyards stripped of grapes and the vines severely damaged. The hail damage hit the Pinho valley and the Rio Torto valley particularly badly.

According to Paul Symington, joint managing director of Symington Group, the largest producer in the region, properties further east such as Quinta dos Malvedos and Quinta do Vesuvio, were unaffected, experiencing only heavy rain, which has benefited the vines.

In some higher areas around S. Joo da Pesqueira and Ervedosa losses are high, with some reporting a total loss of this year's crop and calling for government intervention and financial help.

At Warre's Quinta da Cavadinha and the adjoining vineyards of Alvito and Netas in the Pinho valley, the hail is estimated to have damaged some 20% of the young green bunches on the vines.

Symington said: The degree of damage done has been widely reported in the Portuguese national press, with some newspapers reporting a very high percentage of this year's crop destroyed in some key areas. It is likely, and to be hoped, that the actual damage is not as widespread as initially reported, although some have undoubtedly been hit hard.

The consequence of this storm will have only a slight impact in the short term on the Port trade at large, and due to the (normally financially burdensome) law that requires Port companies to maintain a 3:1 stock ratio, there will be no major shortfall in production of first-rate wines as a result.

Our deepest concern is for those Douro farmers who have lost all or part of their crop, on which they depend for their annual income, and we sincerely hope that they receive the support and compensation they merit.'