By Vicki Denig
on Apr 14, 2021
in Harvest Reports

How Frost Affects Vineyards

As if 2020 weren't tough enough, France experienced record high temperatures a few weeks back, only to be followed three days of bone-chilling frosts. These initial summer-like days caused bud break to happen across many regions, which, when followed by frost, killed off an exuberant amount of plants nationwide. A handful of our producers have already reported devastating losses of up to 70-80%, and the cold temperatures still aren't over. Our friends over at Argaux wrote a quick read on how frosts affect vineyards, which we're sharing below. We will report back with producer-specific details as soon as we know more.

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by Argaux:

Why is frost so detrimental to the vines?

In the winter the vines lay dormant and are able to withstand the cooler temperatures. As we enter Spring, the buds begin to open (known as bud break) and new green shoots begin to grow. These buds/shoots are fresh and tender and contain water, making them susceptible to freezing which in turn would kill the new growth on the vines. While Spring brings these new buds it also brings the threat of frost and the threat of severely damaging the yields of a given vintage.

Photo Credit: Vincent Dancer

How do vineyards protect against frost damage?

Preventing frost requires the production of heat or the recirculation of warm air. The most common method seen throughout Burgundy in the last few nights has been the use of candles/smudge pots placed sporadically throughout the vineyards. These help produce heat and offer a layer protective smoke. As you can imagine, protecting your vineyard from frost is an around the clock job and the battle has only just begun.

Photo Credit: Céline Fontaine-Gagnard

It’s important to remember that wine is an agricultural product and that each wine’s vintage is indicative of the conditions of that year. This is a prime example of the differences we can see in wine from vintage to vintage. There has already been severe damage to the 2021 vintage due to this frost and our friends are working tirelessly to prevent further loss in the vineyards.

Photo Credit: Domaine Rougeot

Sending all of our love, thoughts, and good health to our treasured winemakers across France during these incredibly hard times.