In France, 2022 was an extremely dry year and it has continued the same way at the beginning of 2023, southern France including Provence is especially affected. Already in the middle of March, irrigation restrictions were introduced in Provence such as not being allowed to fill your pool, wash your car at home, watering only during the night or a total irrigation ban except for vegetable gardens, no showering on the beaches, etc.
The vinefarmers in Provence, and everyone else, have been waiting for rain as the rainfall during the first four months of the year was only 63 mm, against the “normal” 220 mm, in my “reference town” Le Luc in the middle of the Var department. But in May it broke loose, on the first of May there was torrential rain which caused landslide warnings to be issued for the dry ground.
The weekend in mid-May brought even more heavy rains in the same weather system that then triggered the heavy floods in Emilia Romagna in Italy. In the first two weeks of May, 80 mm of rain has already fallen in Le Luc. Unfortunately, there are several areas in Provence that were also hit by hailstorms, e.g. in Le Luc and its vicinity such as Flassans-sur-Issole, Gonfaron, Pierrefeu and Vidauban but also more towards Bandol.
Hailstorms are local and the first estimates for the worst affected vineyards indicate 90% losses, while nearby vineyards “only” suffered 20% losses. Not good at all during the sensitive flowering phase!
The pictures below show some “less serious” damage to vines between Le Luc and Gonfaron.
The forecast for the rest of May is for rain every day (!), which is really needed, but there is a risk of more torrential rain with hail storms!
The vinefarmers are now discussing introducing nets over the vines similar to those used for orchards or, which has not yet been developed in Provence as opposed to, for example, Burgundy, introducing systems that shoot up iodized silver which makes the hail smaller and thus falls more slowly with less damage.
The insurance available today for the vinefarmers is to join the association Rouge Provence where vinefarmers who are affected by the vagaries of the weather are helped by the other members by sharing their harvest, read more about Rouge Provence in my Provence wine books.
Surely you have signed up for the Newsletter so that you receive news from the Provence wine world as well as other interesting wine news? If you have already done so, tell your wine-interested friends!
Provence expert Göran Boman, Author of the books “Provence – Vita, röda och även roséviner” and “The Wines of Provence – Tricolour”.