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Hail and rain wreck vineyards across eastern France

Published:  23 July, 2008

The cost of the hailstorm and torrential rain that destroyed some of the most famous vineyards in Alsace last Wednesday "was impossible to estimate", the region's promotional body said, revealing that some growers had seen 100% of their crops destroyed.

This comes just days after fierce hailstorms wiped out about 60% of the year's harvest in the Cte-Rtie - home to some of the world's best Syrah - including top vineyards La Landonne and La Mouline.

Lna Martin, managerial assistant at the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d'Alsace (CIVA), said while precise details of the damage and cost to the wine industry were not likely until next week, she admitted it was widespread. This latest disaster follows a poor rain-affected vintage in 2006.

"The most damaged area is northwest of Colmar, where some producers have lost 100% of their crop," Martin said. In just an hour, more than 120mm of rain and grape-sized hailstones hit the area.

She said the worst-hit villages were Bennwihr, Mittelwihr, Sigolsheim, Beblenheim and Ammerschwihr, where entire vineyards had been ripped up, destroying grapes and branches and stripping the vines of leaves.

Grand Cru vineyards including Mambourg and Marckrain have been severely hurt, and Schlossberg and Furstentum have reportedly lost up to 40% of their crops.

In the Rhne, nearly 20cm of marble-sized hailstones battered the famed 200ha appellation of Cte-Rtie last Wednesday between the towns of Ampuis and St-Cyr-sur-le-Rhne. The more northerly Cte Brune was worse hit than the Cte Blonde.