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Historic & Catastrophic Frosts, 7th/8th April 2021

Saturday 17 April 2021

On the night of the 7th/8th April 2021, catastrophic frosts hit the Languedoc.

Historic & Catastrophic Frosts, 7th/8th April 2021
As many of you will already know, on the night of the 7th/8th April, the Languedoc was hit with severe frosts. The local wine and fruit growers were hoping that the cold which had already caused havoc further north, would hold off as the wind was forecast to turn southerly later on the Thursday. Unfortunately this didn't happen, and many areas from the Spanish border to the Rhone and beyond recorded record April low temperatures as low as -8°C! The budding vines which with the recent mild and sunny weather had been growing quickly, didn't stand a chance. As the wind dropped that night, cold air sank into low lying "frost hollows" and decimated the new growth. In recent years we have had frost, hail, mildew, black rot and other issues. But nothing on this scale. Vitisphère and the Revue du Vin de France are both conservatively estimating a 50% drop in wine production in the Languedoc for the 2021 vintage. Several of the domains we work with have been hard hit, but I won't mention them until I have all of the information. It would appear that higher up vineyards suffered less. The photo above was taken on the plain below the village of Roquessels in the Faugères appellation, and there was not a single leaf or bud that hadn't been frazzled in that particular area. It's very sad, and needless to say with the Covid situation making winegrowers' lives more difficult already, this was a particularly bitter blow. The vines themselves will survive, and the government and insurers will cover some of the losses, but the lack of a harvest means that many producers will lose markets next year when they have no wine available, and will have to start their marketing all over again when the 2022 vintage will be available... in 2023! Just about every area of France was impacted and we will see the effects this summer as regards fruit. So the best we can do is support our local fruit and wine growers. Global warming might seem an unlikely reason for these late, record frosts, but climate change is happening. The jet stream is becoming less predictable and when it tracks further south than usual in Spring it can draw polar air down into Europe. These late frosts may be something that we will have to live with, and serious meteorologists as well as crackpots are looking worriedly at the very low sunspot activity expected in the next 30 years. Low sunspot periods through history have often been linked to poor harvests in Europe and elsewhere. 

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