French Winemakers Seek State Funding After Hail Storm Decimates Vineyards

The hail storm that has severely damaged several vineyards in the region is now leading local officials to seek state aid.
beaujolais

Wikimedia Commons / Geoff Wong / CC BY 2.0

The productive wine region has taken two major hits from hail in recent weeks.

The latest news from the French wine regions could not be more French. Local officials are calling for the wine region of Beaujolais to be declared a disaster area so it can receive badly-needed state funding.

This seems absurd on the surface, but it comes on the back of two hail storms that landed an Ali-like one-two punch to the Beaujolais region. Thanks to violent winds and over three inches of rain accompanying the second hailstorm, roughly 20 percent of the vineyard has been partially damaged in the Inter-Beaujolais region, according to Mélina Condy.

In what can only be attributed as bad luck, the expensive real estate was also the region hit the hardest. Fleurie, a sleepy French town that makes excellent (and no doubt expensive) wine, probably suffered the most. The mayor, Frédéric Miguet, notes that “70% to 80% of the vineyards are totally destroyed by the hail.”

The sky is not the only thing rebelling against French attempts to create what must be the national drink of choice. The earth, too, has shaken off the shackles of the vines — literally. A landslide has spread soil on the roads and potentially disrupted vineyard terroirs (the taste of the wine that comes from the soil. Pretentious problem? Perhaps. Typical French complaint? Absolutely.)

The growers want the Beaujolais region to be declared a disaster zone, which would allow the state to provide funding and aid to growers that have been hit the hardest. With a number of Beaujolais properties already in poor financial help, this latest hail storm, if unaccompanied by state aid, could further weaken those properties.

In a world of intentional mislabeling of wines and $6 award-winners, this disaster seems almost commonplace. But to the French, it is anything but.

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