Thousands Of Acres Of Valuable Cognac And Chablis Damaged By Hailstorms

Hailstorms and heavy rain over the weekend caused significant damage to valuable vineyards in key French wine regions, particularly Cognac, Chablis, and Beaujolais.

Cognac producers say their vineyard was the worst hit, with eight percent of the land — up to 14,800 acres — damaged by hail and heavy showers on Friday evening, May 27. Nearly six inches of hail fell in 15 minutes during the storm, with hail stones as large as quail eggs, according to Reuters.

"There are places where [the vines] have been 100 percent destroyed," a spokeswoman for a Cognac producers' group said.

In Burgundy, which has 29,000 hectares of vines [approximately 71,660 acres], hail and rain damaged about 600 hectares [1,482 acres], and in Beaujolais, some 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) were also hit badly. "Where the storm passed it was very violent," said a spokesman for the wine group Inter Beaujolais. "It chopped vines and ground leaves."

The size of this year's harvest has been diminished for all three regions as a result of the storm, and the damage is expected to impact future harvests as well.