To take stock, it’s always better to take a step back – emotions can be raw in the first minutes / hours after such an attack.
My experience of the hail on Saturday was in the Place Carnot in Beaune. It started at 17h10 with heavy rain – then for 3-4 minutes there was hail too – big enough pellets to hurt, but modestly sized – say 1+cm in diameter. Of-course, it turned-out that was only the first wave. Fifteen minutes later it hit again, but this time the first notice was the hail, not rain, and this time the projectiles were the size of a 2 Euro coin – they can also damage your body as you can see below – the clusters on many vines had no chance.
It was a broad and prolonged attack – this year from Chagny all the way to Gevrey-Chambertin – but, once-more, it was that area from Meursault to Savigny that was most cruelly affected. The much vaunted ‘hail defence’ system was lit in Volnay 3 hours prior to the well-forecast storm-front, it was no defence in this case. To-date, the Mâconnais, Chalonnaise and Chablis rest largely untouched.
I received the following email from a grower, in Volnay, yesterday evening:
I found my email written July 23, 2013: Today, I can make a “copy and paste” because yesterday, June 28 2014, was once-more devastated by hail:
Just a little word of collective thanks for all the many people who bring us comfort by email or phone. And yes, this is the shit, we were again hit by hail on Saturday 28 June at 17:00. The most damaged vines are those of Pommard: Epenots, Rugiens, Clos Micault between 50 and 80%, Pézerolles 80-100%. In Volnay we are damaged between 40 and 80% – that’s my current estimate.
It is hard to take because we had this situation in 2001, 2004, 2012 and 2013. It is all the more disheartening because we had worked well, the vines were beautiful and indicated a normal harvest. All the green work was completed and the team was ready for the holidays.
We will reign-in all investments and business travel – everything that is not strictly necessary for our Domaine. As I am “an old fart” (a joke between my dad and me), I have no debt to repay or more cumbersome investments. So the goal is to preserve the financial equilibrium of the operation and eventually the dynamism.
Thank you all for your moral support and the awareness that we are surrounded by family, friends and clients.
Indeed, until the weather-front made its attack, the vines and clusters looked picture-perfect. Some growers were openly opining on the maximum that they would be allowed to declare at harvest – roughly 50 hl/ha for villages – very few will now need to make the calculations. The southern part of the Côte de Beaune was a little less damaged, likewise the Côte de Nuits – but there were also hailstones of 2-4cm diameter in Vosne-Romanée – the Clos de Vougeot and Romanée St.Vivant lost up to 25%, maybe more in Echézeaux. Much of the rest of Vosne lost more like 15%. We also shouldn’t forget; the hail hit in June, July AND August in 2012…
Three hours after the hail hit, was the ‘Elegance de Volnay’ dinner and celebration of the appellation. It began in subdued fashion, but in the end, the vignerons began pouring their bottles saying “Drink now – we might not have any wine in a couple of years…”
With thanks to Thomas Bouley, Vincent Latour, Anne Parent and Nicolas Rossignol for the following images: