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Snow storms hit producers and vines in central Italy

Published:  29 November, 2013

Up to 60cm of snow, which fell on Monday and Tuesday this week, have caused extensive damage to the vineyards in Abruzzo, central Italy.

Although the snow itself did not come as a surprise, it was the quantity, coupled with strong winds of up to 160km an hour, that caused major damage to the vines.

Angelo Ruzzi, sales export manager at Cantina Zaccagnini, explained: "The quantity of snow which fell on unpruned tall pergola-trained vines was the problem. They supported it, and eventually broke. We have only lost up to 10% of our vines. Some were less lucky."

Francesco Valentini, who produces the celebrated Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, was one of the hardest hit, with up to 50% of vines damaged by the snow. He said the level of snow was the major concern. "The issue is not the amount of damage to my vines or any others, it is climate change. We have had up to 60cm of snow falling in November, coupled with winds of up to 140km an hour. That isn't normal.

"In Italy we talk about Berlusconi, but no-one writes about these serious issues. We will recover from the damage, but the climate will continue to change, unchecked."

Tonino Verna, president of both Cantina Tollo, the region's largest cooperative, and of the Consorzio Tutela Vini D'Abruzzo, tried to put the damage in to perspective: "Out of 35,000ha planted to members of the Consorzio, about 2,000ha have been affected. At Cantina Tollo only about 50ha have been affected. Yes, there has been damage to vines, especially in the hills, but it is not as catastrophic as some are suggesting."

This year has already been harsh for many European vineyards, with devastating thunderstorms hitting vines and production in areas of Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Alsace.