Among our newfound lockdown hobbies, a renewed love of cooking (and eating) and TV ultramarathons, for many of us, wine was definitely up there as one of the things that got us through the last year and a half.
And yet, as if the last 18 months haven’t been hard enough, winemakers in France have reported that 2021 has been one of the worst years on record for winemaking, which could result in pricier bottles for you and us (sob).
It’s all thanks to the weather, or rather the bad weather that’s been caused by climate change. Frosts in April and summer downpours are the least ideal conditions for growing grapes for wine, and that’s exactly what this year’s weather gave us.
It’s been such a horrific year, in fact, that the French Agriculture Ministry predict that wine production will hit a historic low this year: ‘Wine production in 2021 is forecast to be historically weak, below levels in 1991 and 2017 that were also affected by severe frost in spring,’ the ministry said in a report.
Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie called it ‘probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century.’
How do we know the climate crisis is to blame? A warming climate has been found to increase the probability of an extreme frost during the spring by 60 per cent, which is the prime grape-growing season.
So why does this mean French and Italian wines will increase in price? Well, production from vineyards is down 30 per cent overall in France, while in Italy, the world’s largest producer of wine, is also predicting a 5-10 per cent fall in wine production.
On top of that, wineries are missing out on their usual additional income made through tourism thanks to pandemic-related travel restrictions: ‘Wine producers are facing major difficulties this year,’ said Jerome Despey, wine producer and head of the wine committee at farming agency FranceAgriMer.
While this possible price hike will affect white, red, rosé and other types of French and Italian wines, the good news is Champagne prices are expected to stay as they are, because producers can rely on previous seasons’ supply. Cheers to that!