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Weather dampens French wine harvest

Published:  23 July, 2008

FRANCE: The country is bracing itself for one of the smallest grape harvests for 20 years

A summer of storms and plant diseases brought on by wet weather has destroyed the harvest, the national winegrowers' office said.

National production is expected to plunge 7% compared to 2006, reaching 49.1 million hectolitres (1.3 billion US gallons), Viniflhor, the French national office of fruit, wine and horticulture said.

The 2007 harvest is set to fall 3.8m hectolitres short of its average over the last five years, to its worst level since the devastating European heat-wave of 2003.

The storms and rainy periods damaged the process of flower and fruit formation, while all French vineyards reported outbreaks of mildew and millerandage, the office said.

It noted the poor French harvest was part of a trend across southern Europe, with drops in grape production also predicted in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece. Only central European countries are expecting grape volumes to rise.

Grape harvesting kicked off late last month in most French regions, and is set to continue through September.