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French wine production to drop by 10 percent after spring freeze, hailstorms

Raymond Roig, AFP | A picture taken on August 12, 2016 shows scorched earth next to a vineyard near Ille-sur-Têt in southern France

The fierce storms and freezing temperatures that hit France in April will help push wine production down around 10 percent this year compared to last year's output, the ministry of agriculture announced Thursday.

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Unseasonally cool weather through the spring and into summer will push overall wine production down to 42.9 million hectolitres from 47.8 million in 2015, according to the ministry's Agreste statistical service.

In revising its outlook, Agreste blamed "the spring freeze that hit certain winegrowing areas, recurring winds made worse by drought around the Mediterranean and damage stemming from frost".

Champagne was one of the worst-hit regions, with bouts of spring frost and hailstorms set to lower production by as much as a third. Harvesting is already a week behind schedule based on a 10-year average.

Vineyards in Valfaunes and elsewhere were also partially destroyed after violent hailstorms near the southern city of Montpellier, prompting Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll to ask local authorities to introduce measures to help the affected wine producers.

A fire earlier this month also destroyed around 1,100 hectares including vineyards in Ille-sur-Têt in southern France while winegrowers elsewhere have been battling outbreaks of rot and mildew.

The inclement weather means that French production will likely continue to lag behind that of Italy, which claimed the crown as the world's biggest wine producer last year.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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