France’s winemakers claim that this year’s grape harvest will be the worst on record. Late frosts throughout the wine-growing regions will result in a 17 percent drop in quantities to 37.6 million hectolitres, the agriculture ministry has said, even lower than the disastrous 1991 harvest, a cataclysmic event still very well remembered.
The Mediterranean region was also hit by wind and rain, damaging juvenile fruits. The Rhone Valley was particularly hard-hit, with grapes failing to develop properly after flowering.
Harvesting is due to start in August and continue to October, and while quantities are down, the question of quality is too early to answer. Summer sunshine has helped, but growers will be hit in their pockets even if the quality is good due to the lack of quantity. However, 2016 was such a successful harvest that those wine growers who held some production back last year will benefit from the shortage.
Due to the high cost of premiums, only about 25 percent of French vineyards have insurance against bad weather.