Yet more crop failures after the US lost 20% of their wheat crop as a result of a single weather incident
'Catastrophic' Frost In England Destroys Half of This Year's Grape Harvest, Winemakers Say
6 May, 2017
After a "catastrophic" late spring frost hit the English countryside last week, wine growers say at least half of this year's grape harvest has been wiped out.
According to the BBC, the chief executive of Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey, England, said about 75 percent of the buds were killed by the frost. Denbies is one of 133 wineries in England that produced five million bottles of wine in 2015.
Chris White of Denbies said the "catastrophic" damage had been "a blow" to the industry.
"It was an early start to the year with the mild weather," White told the BBC.
"Although we do get frosts at this time of year, because of the advanced stage of the buds and the sheer drop of temperature, down to (21 degrees Fahrenheit), none of the measures we put in place made any difference," he said.
Despite the setback, White told Farmer's Weekly that he remains optimistic.
“Parts of the vineyard have lost quite a few of the primary buds but we still remain optimistic for a crop that will produce a quality harvest if not as big as the last few years,” White said.
In attempting to stave off the frost's impact on the buds, wine producers used frost fans and hundreds of candles that go by the French term "bougies" are lit to try to warm the air around the vines and prevent the frost from sticking.
White said "most vineyards in England will have been affected to some degree," adding that wine producers have to have "broad shoulders" in their line of business.
"With the weather, we're in the lap of the gods," White said.
Nick Wenman, founder and owner of Albury Organic Vineyard in Surrey, told BBC Radio 4's Today program that the frost that hit over three nights last week was "like an Arctic wind which blew through the vineyard and froze everything in its path."
Wenman said 70-80 percent of the buds at his vineyard had been damaged, which translates into a shortfall of 50 percent of its yield.
"It's a long-term business so we have to have a long-term view, but it's certainly not good news," Wenman said. "If it happened every year, it would be something we couldn't put up with."
On his blog, Wenman wrote that it had been one of the hardest weeks he had faced since he started the vineyard eight years ago.
"It's been a stark reminder of the difficulties faced by wine producers in the country and, yes, at this moment we are indeed asking ourselves whether we were mad to try and grow vines in England," he said.