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French wine producers hail anti-hail netting go-ahead

Published:  26 July, 2018

Wine producers have applauded the news that the INAO has officially approved the use of anti-hail netting in French vineyards describing it as a ‘positive development’.

Gavin Quinney, owner and winemaker at Chateau Bauduc who lost half his crop to hail during a storm in 2013, likened the move, to “somebody putting seatbelts in a car”.

“It’s that significant in terms of protecting yourself,” he told Harpers. “It’s perfectly obvious if you can afford it. I’m not sure why it’s taken so long.”

His views were echoed by Jason Haynes, buying director at Flint Wines, which specialises in the wines of Burgundy.

“Hail is only ever a negative phenomenon and can destroy a whole year's work in 10 minutes,” he said.

“I can't believe it has taken so long as it seems such an obvious thing to do. It's a very different issue to say allowing irrigation which would fundamentally change the conditions of the vineyards.”

Haynes insisted hail had become a more prevalent threat in recent years and described the conditions in Burgundy as being “finely balanced between just being warm enough to ripen grapes and yet not too warm to lose varietal character and terroir influence”.

“There is already enough meteorological risk to make growing grapes, especially ones as fragile as Pinot Noir, a challenging pastime. If hail can be taken out of the equation that can only be a positive development.”

The use of anti-hail netting was approved last month and will give every one of the country’s AOC the opportunity to apply to use it.

Quinney – who has been investigating the use of the nets since 2015 – said the only downside was the cost “between 15 and 20,000 euros per hectare.”

“We will also have to see how available these are and understand that there is supply. As these were not permitted, this is a new industry in France. It depends how quickly service providers can gear up for this.”