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France

Hail storms destroy French champagne vineyards

media Wine grapes after hailstorms François Nascimbeni/AFP

French champagne producers are counting their losses after a battering by a wave of hail storms that wiped out 1,000 hectares of grapes, the main growers' association said on Wednesday.

The northeastern Champagne region experienced four particularly heavy hail storms in late April and May just as the vines were beginning to flower.

"So far 1,800 hectares have been damaged of which 1,000 have been 100 percent destroyed, representing three percent of the total champagne-growing area," the industry's Champagne Committee said.

But thanks to a system which allows champagne producers to mix new product with stocks from previous years, the weather damage is not expected to result in shortages of fizz.

Winemakers in the southwest have also been affected by torrential summer storms which have hit earlier this year than usual.

Pebble-sized hailstones destroyed 7,100 hectares of vines in the Bordeaux area and a further 10,000 hectares in Cognac last weekend.

Agriculture Minister Stéphane Travert told parliament on Saturday that the government was looking into "what measures we can put in place and what support we can offer" to the wine industry.

(with AFP)

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