French Wine Production to Rise as Weather Curbs Mold
France’s wine production may rise to a five-year high after August rain that filled grapes was followed by dry September weather that limited damage from gray mold fungus, the Agriculture Ministry said.
The volume of wine produced this year may jump 11 percent to 50.2 million hectoliters (1.33 billion gallons) from 45.4 million hectoliters in 2010, the ministry said in a report on its website today, raising its forecast from 48.8 million hectoliters in September.
France’s shipments of wine and champagne last year had a value of 6.33 billion euros ($8.8 billion), or 13 percent of the country’s overall farm and food exports. Wine exports in the first six month of 2011 rose 15 percent to 3.13 billion euros, according to government data.
“The harvest went well at the end of the period, due to clement weather,” the ministry said. “Thanks to dry weather conditions in September, the level of botrytis attacks has been contained in most regions.”
The ministry reported last month the wine harvest was at increased risk of botrytis, a fungus that can cause gray mold on grapes in wet or humid conditions, after the August rain.
French wine production is forecast to be the highest since 2006. Spring drought was followed by a rainy summer in July and August in many regions that increased the harvest potential, according to the ministry.
“Most of the harvests started with an advance at the end of August,” the ministry said. “The initial acidity levels will be quite low.’
The volume of wines produced with a protected designation of origin, known by their French abbreviation AOP, may climb 7.4 percent to 23.3 million hectoliters, the ministry said.
The volume of Champagne-appellation wines is estimated to increase 25 percent to 2.89 million hectoliters and Burgundy and Beaujolais appellation volumes will rise 8.7 percent to 2.43 million hectoliters, the ministry said.
In the Bordeaux region, the biggest producer of designated- origin wines, AOP volumes will slip 1.1 percent to 5.63 million hectoliters, according to the report. Grape yields suffered from summer drought, local hail damage and botrytis damage, the ministry said.
The biggest gain in production of AOP wines is forecast for the Alsace region, with volumes climbing 31 percent to 1.2 million hectoliters, the ministry said.
“Botrytis, which affected mostly the pinots gris and noirs and the Rieslings, resulted in a slight reduction of the harvest outlook” in Alsace, the ministry said. “The wines should have acidity levels that are lower than in previous years.”
In Languedoc-Roussillon, the biggest wine-production region overall, output is forecast to advance 21 percent to 14.5 million hectoliters, with about a fifth having a protected designation of origin.
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