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Languedoc producers latest victims of hail storms in France

Published:  22 August, 2016

The Languedoc was the most recent region to suffer at the hands of extreme weather, when a severe hailstorm hit last week.

According French media reports, the Pic-St-Loup area in the Languedoc was pummelled by golfball size hail on Wednesday afternoon (17 August 2016).

The local chamber of commerce was assessing the damage and while some producers have reported severe losses just ahead of the upcoming 2016 harvest, the area is estimating losses of at least 50%.

Ruth and Charlie Simpson of Domaine Sainte Rose who are based about 40 minutes from the worst hit area of Pic-St-Loup were spared, although some neighbours have suffered some damage. Charlie Simpson said: "The storms just brushed past us. We all watched it unfold. It was terrible, but there was no warning either. There were no forecasts for rain or hail, but you could feel it building it up.  By all accounts in Pic-St-Loup, it seems between 1500-1800 hectares have been totally decimated."

Simpson said that the weather is tough to predicted and varies greatly even within a small area. "These storms are quite isolated. We had hard and heavy rain that lasted only three to four minutes and we got 10 millimetres of rain. But just cross the motorway from us I know a vineyard just on the south side got 52 millimetres of rain and that was only three kilometres away," he said.

This is another blow to French wine production for the 2016 harvest. The severe weather hit a particularly bad time as grapes were in the ripening phase ahead of harvest.

Last month French Ministry of Agriculture warned that French wine production is expected to decline by at least 8% for the 2016 harvest following the damaging hailstorms and spring frost which hit several different areas across the country earlier this year.

Champagne was one of the worst hit regions by the frost and production is expected to be down -32% . Loire was also effected almost as badly with production estimates expected to also be down -32%. Burgundy and Beaujolais were also hit with production expecting to be down -23%/ The regions all suffered severe frost at the end of April which has already taken a toll on the country's wine industry.