France forecasts fall in wine output

Gus TrompizAAP
France's wine production could slump by as much as 30 per cent this year.
Camera IconFrance's wine production could slump by as much as 30 per cent this year. Credit: AP

France's wine production could slump by as much as 30 per cent this year, to its lowest level in decades, after vineyards were hit by spring frosts and summer downpours, its farm ministry says.

Champagne producers have warned that harvest potential has been cut by about half due to severe spring frosts followed by torrential summer rain that caused mildew fungus.

In its first outlook for 2021 wine output, the French farm ministry on Friday projected wine output at between 32.6 million and 35.6 million hectolitres, 24-30 per cent less than last year.

A hectolitre is the equivalent of 100 litres, or 133 standard wine bottles.

"Wine production in 2021 is forecast to be historically weak, below levels in 1991 and 2017 that were also affected by severe frost in spring," it said in a report.

"Yields are expected to be close to those of 1977, a year when the harvest was cut by damaging frost and summer rainfall."

The impact on market supply and prices, however, could be limited by inventories built up during the coronavirus pandemic.

Champagne producers also say their longstanding practice of using stocks from previous seasons will prevent any spike in prices of the sparkling wine.

Overall production would be the lowest since at least 1970, ministry data showed, with nearly all production hit by frosts.

Meanwhile mildew disease spawned by soggy summer conditions had affected areas including Champagne, Alsace and Beaujolais.

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