PARIS — A sudden frost, the worst in decades, has ravaged a French wine industry already reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and what is known among winegrowers as the “Trump tax.”
Candles and small fires glittered across vineyards and orchards last week, their pretty flickering belying the disaster, as winegrowers and farmers tried everything to ward off the frost cutting the life from newly formed shoots and buds. A layer of smog from the fires formed over Lyon and areas of the southeast.
But by the time the cold snap ended, destruction had spread across most of France’s winegrowing regions, including the Rhone Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and the Loire. Jean-Marie Barillère, the head of a major wine industry association, told the French daily Le Figaro the frost had hit “80 percent of French vineyards.”
The frost followed a period of mild weather with the result that plunging temperatures caught rural France by surprise. Vines were the worst hit but almond and fruit trees were also affected, as well as some other crops, including beets and rapeseed.
imposed tariffs on French wines as a result of various subsidy and tax disputes with France. The import taxes contributed to a 14 percent plunge in global French wine and spirt exports last year. With air traffic way down, duty-free wine sales have also plummeted.