French Wine Harvest For 2017 Lowest In 72 Years

Cold snaps and unseasonable frosts, extending into April in some cases, have been blamed for an unusually small harvest of wine grapes in the 2017 vintage.

Vineyards in Bordeaux report losses of between 25 and 90 percent of their crops — the greatest declines were in the Right Bank regions of Graves, St-Émilion, and Sauternes — and Burgundy, Alsace, and the Loire also reported significant declines in production. Overall, total 2017 grape yields in France came in at 18 percent less than that of the already very low 2016 harvest, and 17 percent below the average of the past five years.

Other countries reported heavy losses, as well, among them Austria, Germany, and Hungary.

The good news is that, while quantity was down, quality is expected to be high. Industry observers suggest that the 2017 vintage will be a good one for higher-end wines, and that it is less expensive categories that will suffer most.

Mention of the disastrous (in quantity) 1945 vintage brings smiles to the faces of many vintners, who recall that that year turned out to be "the year of the century" in terms of quality in virtually every part of France.