French Wine Production Seen Rising 13% From Lowest in 40 Years

French wine production is forecast to jump 13 percent this year, recovering from the lowest in 40 years as grape harvests rebound in the Burgundy and Beaujolais regions and the Loire River valley.

Output may rise to 46.6 million hectoliters (1.2 billion gallons) from 41.4 million hectoliters in 2012, the Paris-based Agriculture Ministry wrote in an online report today. The outlook is uncertain as vines are still flowering following cold weather, the report showed.

Grapes suffered last year from drought, frost, wetness, disease and hailstorms. The final wine-production figure was more than 10 percent below an initial forecast of 46.7 million hectoliters.

“Due to unfavorable weather conditions for now, flowering hasn’t yet finished in most regions,” the ministry said. “The uncertainty in the first outlook is therefore great. Only after flowering and fruit set can a more precise trend be measured.”

Vines are flowering with a delay of 15 to 20 days in Burgundy and Beaujolais, three weeks in the Jura area, two to three weeks in Bordeaux and about two weeks in the Loire valley, according to the report. France had its coldest spring since 1987, according to weather office Meteo France.

France exported 7.84 billion euros ($10.2 billion) of wine and champagne in 2011, accounting for 14 percent of the country’s farm and food shipments, government data show.

June Flowering

Production in the Champagne region is forecast to rise to 2.24 million hectoliters from 1.98 million last year, still below the 3.04 million hectoliters produced in 2011. Uncertainty is “very high” because flowering only started at the end of June, the ministry said.

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA is the world’s largest maker of champagne, with brands including Moet & Chandon and Dom Perignon. Vranken-Pommery Monopole SA ranks second, followed by Pernod-Ricard SA and Laurent-Perrier.

Burgundy and Beaujolais appellation wine volume is predicted to climb 34 percent to 2.31 million hectoliters, after vineyards in the regions suffered last year from late frost, hail, disease and poor fruit set.

Bordeaux-region wine volume may climb to 5.72 million hectoliters from 5.45 million. The region is France’s biggest producer of designated-origin wines.

In Languedoc-Roussillon, France’s biggest wine region by total volume, production is forecast to jump 13 percent to 12.8 million hectoliters, while output in the Loire valley may surge 35 percent to 2.72 million hectolitres, according to the ministry.

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