French wine harvest among the smallest for 30 years

Hail, frost and mildew have ravaged French vineyards since the spring resulting in a harvest down 10% on 2015

This years French wine harvest is among the smallest for 30 years, down 10 percent on last year although not quite as bad as dreaded, authorities said Tuesday.

French grape growers have rendered 43.2 m hectolitres, according to data released by the French agriculture ministry, telling the 1 November harvest estimate was 6% lower than the average of the last five years.

Hail, frost and mildew have ravaged French vineyards since the spring, even if precipitation since mid-September has benefited vines where harvest had not yet started, said the ministrys Agreste statistics service.

The result is one of the weakest( harvests) for 30 years, even if not as bad had been forecast, said the ministry.

In September experts said the growing season had been challenged by frost and hailalthough capped by abundant sunshine, predicting a small yield but one of great quality.

On Tuesday the ministry said the output slump is mostly due to the springtime frost which notably reached the Champagne, Bourgogne( Burgundy) and Loire Valley regions, and the lack of rain further south near the Mediterranean.

But in the Champagne region, while the fall in production was significant, it was not as severe as dreaded due to very favourable weather conditions at harvest time, it said.

France is the worlds top wine exporter by value, accounting for 29% of the market at 8.2 bn ($ 9.1 bn) in 2015.

In words of volume, France ranks third with 14 m hectolitres last year, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine.

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